CANADA STOCKS-TSX ends at 3-week low after weak U.S. data

Thu Oct 1, 2009 5:04pm EDT
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 * TSX drops 323.20 points to 11,071.76
 * Lowest TSX close since Sept. 9
 * All 10 TSX sectors finish lower
 (Adds details and comments)
 By Frank Pingue
 TORONTO, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index
skidded nearly 3 percent to its lowest close in more than three
weeks on Thursday, hit by a mix of soft commodity prices and
weak data from the United States that raised concerns about the
strength of economic recovery.
 Shares of oil company Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote), the biggest
drag on the index, fell 4.4 percent to C$35.74, while Canadian
Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) ended down 3.4 percent at C$69.81.
 Heavyweight bank shares were also hit. Royal Bank of Canada
(RY.TO: Quote) dropped 2.45 percent to C$56.14, while Toronto-Dominion
Bank (TD.TO: Quote) ended down 2.8 percent at C$66.70.
 Fresh off a third-quarter gain of 9.8 percent, the TSX was
knocked back after a report that showed the U.S. manufacturing
sector expanded in September for a second straight month but at
a slower pace than economists expected. [ID:nSP546135]
 "We had a better than expected third quarter and so I think
people, being wary of the stability of the recovery, are
anxious to take profits," said Michael Sprung, president at
Sprung & Co Investment Counsel.
 "And you couple that with the disappointing manufacturing
number and I think people are, and maybe rightly so, worried
about the underlying strength of the economy."
 The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 323.20
points, or 2.84 percent, at 11,071.76. That marked the TSX's
lowest close since Sept. 9.
 All 10 TSX sectors ended lower, led by a 4 percent drop in
the materials group, home to gold miners.
 Shares of gold miners were unloaded as the price of gold
buckled to below $1,000 an ounce before recovering slightly.
 Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO: Quote) shares fell 3.3 percent to
C$39.21, while shares of Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) shed 3.4 percent to
end the session at C$41.50.
 The TSX remains a staggering 48 percent above the five-year
low it tumbled to in March. During its charge, most selloffs
were followed by renewed spurts of buying.
 But Sprung suggested the latest selloff might not be so
easy to erase as investors grow concerned about the
sustainability of the economic recovery to date, which has been
aided by huge amounts of government stimulus.
 "Going forward this is going to be an extremely volatile
month because I think investors are getting quite concerned."
 Still, a Reuters poll released on Wednesday offered a
median forecast that Canada's main stock index will finish 2009
with a gain of nearly 30 percent due to its heavy weighting in
commodity and energy stocks, which would benefit from economic
recovery. [ID:nLT394850]
 ($1=$1.08 Canadian)