The Canadian stock market was lower Wednesday as gold prices dropped to their three-year lows and caused a large-scale sell-off of gold stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index retreated 53.52 points, or 0.45 percent, to close at 11951.90, while the S&P/TSX Composite Venture Index dropped 21.52 points, or 2.44 percent, to 860.84. Last week\'s news that the Fed may soon slow its monthly 85 billion U.S. dollars of bond buying continued to hit gold prices Wednesday. The August contract for gold on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 49.80 U.S. dollars to a 34-month low of 1,225.3 U.S. dollars an ounce. Gold shares on the Canadian stock market fell broadly, with Barrick Gold, the world\'s largest gold producer, down over 1.5 dollars to 15.5 Canadian dollars per share. Goldcorp Inc. dropped 4.92 to 23.40 Canadian dollars. So far this year, gold stocks on the main index for the Toronto Stock Exchange have lost 46 percent of their value and became one of the worst performing sectors on the market. Another big drag on Wednesday was the telecom sector, as investors reacted to a report that a big U.S. wireless operator has offered to buy two of Canada\'s smaller wireless network operators, making the Canadian market more competitive. Shares in three major Canadian communication operators all went down, with Rogers, Bell and Telus companies losing 9.2 percent, 4.04 percent and 8 percent respectively. Transportation equipment manufacturer Bombardier Inc. also pushed the market lower after the company announced that its first flight of new CSeries jet has been delayed by a month to the end of July. Its shares fell 2.14 percent to 4.57 Canadian dollars per share. The energy sector was down 0.24 percent as the August crude oil contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost most of the gains in Tuesday\'s trading. At closing, the Canadian dollar moved up to 0.9543 U.S. dollars at 5 p.m. local time (2100 GMT), compared with 0.9513 U.S. dollars on Monday.