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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed weaker on Friday, touching its lowest point in nearly a month, as shares of miners such as Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) and Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) sank after the price of the precious metal hit a six-month low.
Disappointing North American economic data also weighed on sentiment, including a report showing Canadian manufacturing sales registered the biggest monthly decrease since the Great Recession.
"All the data points coming out of Canada show the economy is slowing down appreciably," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
"If you can look past the short-term risks, the opportunities continue to be in energy and materials," he said. "But we need a big turnaround in sentiment, especially for the gold producers."
The index's materials sector, which includes mining stocks, slid more than 2 percent. Goldcorp fell 2 percent to C$33.99 despite posting a lower-than-expected drop in adjusted quarterly profit on Thursday. Rival miner Barrick Gold fell 1.9 percent to C$31.82.
The bullion price sank to a six-month low on weak investor demand, currency uncertainty and a dearth of physical demand from China due to the Lunar New Year holiday. <GOL/>
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 35.16 points, or 0.28 percent, at 12,686.63, after dropping earlier to 12,667.70, its lowest point since January 17. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were trading higher.
Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO), down 1.4 percent at C$31.75, played the biggest role of any stock in leading the market lower.
It and other energy producers fell after oil prices sank on an unexpected dip in U.S. industrial production that spurred concerns about lagging economic activity. <O/R>
Other big decliners included Brookfield Asset Management Inc (BAMa.TO). The stock fell more than 3 percent to C$37.26 after the company reported its profit slid 19.2 percent in the fourth quarter.
The telecoms sector helped support the market, rising 1.8 percent. Rogers, the country's biggest wireless company, rose 4 percent to C$47.32 and played the biggest positive role of any single stock.
It gained after the company posted a 30 percent rise in adjusted quarterly profit, increased its dividend and said its chief executive would leave the company early next year.
Competitor Telus posted a 23 percent rise in quarterly profit, helped by strong growth in its wireless business. The stock was up 1.5 percent at C$67.81.
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd (FFH.TO) shares rose nearly 5 percent to C$376.98. The Canadian property and casualty insurer run by investment guru Prem Watsa posted a stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit late on Thursday, which included a large investment gain.
With additional writing by Jeffrey Hodgson; editing by Peter Galloway