CANADA STOCKS-TSX tumbles as materials falter on weak gold
* TSX falls 96.46 points to 12,644.01
* Materials group falls 2.8 percent
* Five of 10 main sectors lower
* TSX ahead 1.5 percent in month
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended lower on Wednesday with materials shares hit as gold prices weakened after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke failed to provide hints of further monetary stimulus, which sent the U.S. dollar sharply higher.
The key materials sector, which accounts for some 20 percent of the broader Toronto index, was down 2.8 percent to lead the market lower. Barrick Gold fell 3.9 percent to C$47.34 and Goldcorp sank 3.6 percent to C$47.97 on weaker gold prices.
Bullion skidded 3 percent on Wednesday for its biggest one day drop in just over two months, pressured by a rally in the greenback after diminished expectations of another Fed asset-buying move raised the currency's appeal.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended the day down 96.46 points, or 0.76 percent, at 12,644.01, with five of its 10 main sectors lower. Continued...