April 1, 2008 / 1:58 PM / in 10 years

Toronto index starts new quarter on weak note

TORONTO, April 1 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index started the second quarter on a soft note on Tuesday as falling commodity prices weighed down resource issues and took the steam out of a rise in financial shares.

Just after the open, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 90.00 points, or 0.7 percent, at 13,260.13. The index has lost 2.2 percent in the three months through March.

The resource-laden materials group shed 3.3 percent as gold prices dropped to a two-month low below the key $900-an-ounce level amid a stronger U.S. dollar, which tarnished the metal’s appeal.

Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), the world’s biggest producer, dropped C$2.37 to C$42.51 and Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) fell C$3.31 to C$66.31.

Meanwhile, energy shares fell 1.6 percent after the price for U.S. crude oil slipped 1.5 percent to $100.06 a barrel on the strengthening U.S. dollar. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) slid C$1.77 to C$97.44.

The resource-based weakness offset a 1.3 percent boost from the heavily weighted financial shares, which were buoyed by Lehman Brothers LEH.N plan to raise as much as $3 billion by issuing convertible preferred stock to bolster its balance sheet.

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) added C$1.68 to C$64.20. ($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Anderson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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