CANADA STOCKS-TSX down sharply on euro zone debt fears

Thu Feb 4, 2010 4:36pm EST
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* TSX down 261.70 points, or 2.3 pct, at 11,128.76

* Oil, gold slide as greenback soars

* Materials leads way lower, down 5.1 pct (Updates to close, adds details)

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index notched its steepest percentage drop since early October on Thursday as investor confidence was shaken by intensifying concerns about sovereign debt in some euro zone countries.

Investors flocked to the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds and the greenback, which also took flight on lackluster U.S. jobs data. [FRX/] The strength in the greenback weighed heavily on the price of oil, which plunged 5 percent to $73.14 a barrel, as well as on the price of gold, which hit a three-month low of $1,060.50 an ounce. [GOL/][O/R]

Barrick Gold ABX.TO topped the list of influential names on the downside, sliding 4.2 percent to C$36.45, while Suncor Energy SU.TO dropped 3 percent to C$31.71. Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO sank 5 percent to C$109.15.

"It's an aversion to risk and that's caused the U.S. dollar to go up and, of course, on days like this you track the U.S. dollar and U.S. treasuries. All the other things fall off." said Paul Gardner, partner & portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE tumbled 261.70 points, or 2.3 percent, to 11,128.76, with eight of the index's 10 main groups lower. Materials led the slide with a 5.1 percent drop.   Continued...