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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index slipped on Friday to its lowest in about 2-1/2 weeks as sluggish commodity prices weighed on shares of materials companies in below-average trading volume ahead of a long weekend.
Investors appeared hesitant to take major positions before the weekend, with the market scheduled to be closed on Monday for the Victoria Day holiday.
The market digested government data that showed foreign investors sold C$1.23 billion ($1.13 billion) worth of Canadian securities in March, the first divestment this year, while domestic purchases of overseas assets hit a 16-month high.
After climbing nearly 7 percent so far this year, the benchmark stock index slipped in the last three sessions and ended the week lower.
"There's this tendency to take some money off the table ahead of a long weekend," said Elvis Picardo, strategist and vice president of research at Global Securities in Vancouver.
"It's a reality check," he added. "You really need a catalyst to send the market much higher from here."
Picardo is positive on the prospects for the Canadian equity market over the long term and expects the TSX to outperform the S&P .SPX this year.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 73.83 points, or 0.51 percent, at 14,515.06. Nine of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.
About 242 million shares changed hands, compared with an average daily volume of about 301 million shares in April, according to Thomson Reuters data and figures from market operator TMX Group.
The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, dropped as gold, silver and copper prices slipped in choppy trading.
Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) was down 1.4 percent at C$26.74, and Teck Resources Ltd TCKb.TO shed 1.1 percent to C$24.63.
Editing by W Simon and James Dalgleish