UPDATE 4-Toronto stocks plunge broadly, coal firms take hit

Wed Jul 2, 2008 5:07pm EDT
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*TSX index dives in broad selloff

*Energy, materials and financials crumble

*Coal companies retreat in face of commodity price drop

By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO, July 2 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index plunged more than 400 points in a broad selloff on Wednesday as economic sentiment darkened and coal companies saw their shares plunge alongside the price of the commodity.

After jumping some 100 points at the open, the index lost its footing and began declining sharply as each of its 10 main subgroups gave up ground.

Energy and materials shares, two key pillars of the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE, lost 3.07 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. Financials shed 2.16 percent.

The selloff came as a report in the United States found that U.S. private-sector employers slashed 79,000 jobs in June -- the largest drop since November 2002 and worse than expected by economists.   Continued...