CANADA STOCKS-Nine sectors fall on TSX, oil bucks trend

Fri Jan 2, 2009 10:18am EST
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* Energy issues rise despite oil price fall

* Canadian Natural, Suncor, EnCana are top three movers

* Financials lead decliners (Adds details)

TORONTO, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index opened lower on Friday on broadbased weakness, led by declining financials and materials, while the energy group bucked the trend.

The financial sector, which accounts for about a third of the index, fell 2 percent. Manulife Financial MFC.TO was one of the top losers, down 2.6 percent at C$20.26. The Big Six Canadian banks were also all down 1 percent or more.

Materials fell 0.6 percent as the sliding gold price put pressure on the influential gold miners. But base metals prices, which were off to a better start in 2009, helped to offset losses in the materials group.

At 9:55 a.m. (1455 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 61.55 points, or 0.7 percent, to 8,926.15. Nine of the index's 10 main groups were lower.

The oil and gas sector was the lone group that advanced. It gained more than 1 percent despite the weaker price of crude. The heavily-weighted energy group has typically followed gyrations in oil but top names such as Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO, Suncor Energy SU.TO, and EnCana ECA.TO -- the top three index movers -- claimed solid gains in the early going of the first trading session of the year.

Canadian Natural was up 2.3 percent to C$49.85, while EnCana gained 1.3 percent to C$57.70. Suncor added 2.1 percent to C$24.21.

($1=$1.22 Canadian) (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Janet Guttsman)