CANADA STOCKS-TSX closes down on gold, energy; Manulife slips
By Allison Martell and Alastair Sharp TORONTO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed lower on Thursday, hurt by a decline in gold miners and energy stocks as the price of gold fell and oil slipped on a surprise European Central Bank rate cut. Manulife Financial Corp also dragged on the index after it announced late on Wednesday that it would buy the Canadian operations of Britain's Standard Life in a near-$4 billion deal. Barrick Gold Corp was the biggest weight, down 4.2 percent at C$18.51 as spot gold slipped. Rival Goldcorp Inc was also influential, falling 3.0 percent to C$28.22. "Before you buy a gold stock, spray your hands three times with hand sanitizer," said Barry Schwartz, a portfolio manager at Baskin Financial. "Don't let anybody tell you that they're value investments." Schwartz said an improving global economy could badly hurt the price of gold. The heavyweight energy sector also fell, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd slipping 1.5 percent to C$45.38. Crude oil futures were lower after the European Central Bank's rate cut boosted the dollar, hitting commodities priced in the U.S. currency. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed down 80.84 points, or 0.52 percent, at 15,576.79. The consumer staples sector gained as Alimentation Couche-Tard, a convenience store and retail chain, rose after several analysts raised their price target on the stock. Couche-Tard earlier in the week reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and its shares were up 3.5 percent at C$36.70. WSP Global fell 3.9 percent to C$35.50 after it said it would buy Balfour Beatty's U.S. professional services division. Manulife closed down 1.4 percent at C$22.05. (Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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