UPDATE 5-Toronto stocks dive as commodities retreat

Thu Oct 2, 2008 5:15pm EDT
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* Toronto stocks give up close to 7 percent

* Potash, Agrium lead declines after downgrade

* Financial-market uncertainty continues to weigh (Adds details)

By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO, Oct 2 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index fell nearly 7 percent on Thursday to its lowest level in more than two years, battered by concerns over the outlook for fertilizer producers and a drop in oil and gold prices.

The plunge in shares of big fertilizer producers Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote) and Agrium Inc (AGU.TO: Quote) came amid worries that the U.S. credit crisis could hamper farmers' ability to get cash for next year's planting season. It marked the latest in a series of shock waves emanating from Wall Street's turmoil and the related slowdown in the global economy.

"It's really brutal out there," said Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at Brant Securities. "The most important thing is the tightness in the money market and the capital markets as a whole."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE plunged 813.97 points, or 6.95 percent, to 10,900.54.

The S&P/TSX 60 index of Canadian blue chips shed 7.45 percent to end at 651.34.   Continued...