CANADA STOCKS-Financials drag TSX to slightly lower close
*TSX closes down 5.57 points at 12,363.08
*Six of index's 10 main sectors weaker
*Resource shares rally after Chinese data (Updates to close)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Weak U.S. manufacturing data and cautious remarks from the U.S. Federal Reserve pressured heavyweight financial shares and tugged Toronto's main stock index slightly lower on Friday.
The financials declined 0.7 percent, with insurers feeling the brunt of the drop. Sun Life Financial SLF.TO fell 1.9 percent to C$26.40, and Manulife Financial MFC.TO dropped 1.7 percent to C$12.76.
Hurting the insurers were comments from William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, who said U.S. growth has been generally disappointing, which boosted the case for continued low U.S. interest rates and other Fed actions to drive down borrowing costs. [ID:nNLL1LE6II]
Continued low interest rates hurt the returns insurers get on their large investments in fixed-return securities.
Also pulling down the Toronto index was U.S. data that showed factory activity slipped and inflation remained subdued in August. [ID:nN01186494]
Supporting the index was stronger-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data, which lit a fire under commodity prices and lifted the demand outlook for Canada's key exports. [O/R] [MET/L]
The index's energy group, up 1.1 percent, and its base-metals subsector, up 1.5 percent, led the gainers as oil rose closer to $82 a barrel and copper rallied to its firmest level in more than two years.
Oil company Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO jumped 3.3 percent to C$36.77 and base-metals miner Teck Resources TCKb.TO advanced 2.4 percent to C$43.35.
Gold miner Barrick Gold ABX.TO added 0.8 percent to C$47.94, as gold extended its record-breaking rally after the Fed comments brightened the outlook for the safe-haven metal as an alternative investment to the U.S. dollar. [GOL/]
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 5.57 points at 12,363.08. Six of the index's 10 main groups were lower. It ended the week 1.3 percent stronger.
Early in the day the index rose to its highest level since September 2008, but the market then took a breather after notching big gains in September and in the third quarter.
"There's a lot to be positive about but there's a lot to be cautious about because the market is up a lot," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
He noted that "October seems to be a spooky month," during which the biggest stock market crashes in history have occurred.
Research In Motion RIM.TO, up 2.2 percent at C$51.20, was in the spotlight as the Indian government said it has manual access to chat communication on BlackBerry messenger services and expects to get automated access from Jan. 1 [ID:nSGE6900BX]
Alimentation Couche-Tard ATDb.TO was down 2.4 percent at C$22.47. It abandoned its $2 billion hostile takeover bid for Casey's General Stores CASY.O on Thursday, nearly half a year after it made its initial offer for the U.S. convenience store chain. [ID:nN30225942]
($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Editing by Peter Galloway)
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