* TSX down 81.05 points, or 0.59 percent at 13,611.32
* Lowest close since March 16
* Energy off 1.49 percent on lower crude prices (Adds details, analyst comments)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, May 4 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index sagged to its lowest close in seven weeks on Wednesday in a broad sell-off of oil and mining shares as commodity prices fell sharply.
The index’s energy group led with a 1.49 percent retreat. Talisman Energy TLM.TO, which reported a quarterly loss, was the biggest drag on the index, falling 5.88 percent to C$21.11. [ID:nN03291511]
Not far behind was Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), which gave back 1.99 percent to finish at C$42.34, and Imperial Oil (IMO.TO), which was off 1.36 percent at C$47.70.
U.S. crude sank below $110 a barrel on Wednesday to its lowest level in two weeks following a larger-than-forecast increase in crude stockpiles. [O/R]
“The resources have been a powerful influence on the upside and what we’re seeing is that they’re also a powerful influence on the downside,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
The index’s materials group, home to miners, was off 0.13 percent. Diversified miner Teck Resources TCKb.TO was down 1.68 percent at C$49.62.
Copper suffered its biggest one-day loss since early March due to worries that China might again tighten monetary policy as well as signs of slowing U.S. growth and the negative economic impact of high energy prices. [MET/L]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the session down 81.05 points, or 0.59 percent at 13,611.32. This added to Tuesday’s 1.74 percent drop and marked the index’s lowest close since March 16.
Six of its 10 main groups closed in the red.
“(Commodities) just had a very bullish run, so I think people are taking profits in most cases,” said Brian Pow, vice president of research and equity analyst at Acumen Capital Partners, in Calgary, Alberta.
“People are looking at how things have performed and are comfortable with some of the gains they’ve already had...I would say that the market’s more likely to go sideways for a while than anything else.”
The financial sector, which makes up 29 percent of the index, was down 0.6 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was another key drag, falling 1.19 percent to C$58.23, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) slid 1.05 percent to C$57.73.
Offsetting some of the declines was a late-day rebound for gold miners. They were up 0.61 percent, led by a 4.86 percent jump in Kinross Gold (K.TO) to C$14.88. The company reported a higher quarterly profit after the market closed on Tuesday. [ID:nN04194058]
Other gold miners eked out smaller gains, reversing earlier declines. Gold prices were weighed down by a sharp slide in silver prices. Sentiment among precious metals investors also took a hit after a report said high-profile investor George Soros, who was bullish on gold and a top gold funds investor, has been selling gold and silver in the past month or so. [GOL/]
A slew of earnings also helped drive some significant moves. Agrium (AGU.TO) took a 3.69 percent hit to finish at C$80.47 after the potash miner offered a weaker than expected outlook despite reporting a strong first-quarter profit. [ID:nN04213122]
Loblaw (L.TO) was also a lead gainer, rising 4.62 percent to C$41.90 after Canada’s biggest grocer reported a higher quarterly profit. [ID:nN03152408]
Magna International (MG.TO) (MGA.N), which posted a 44 percent jump in quarterly profit on the back of strong sales and cost-cutting, climbed 1.69 percent to C$49.28.
($1=$0.96 Canadian) (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Peter Galloway)