UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks slump as economic worries rise

Fri Jan 4, 2008 5:27pm EST
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO Jan 4 (Reuters) - Growing worries over the prospect of a recession south of the border weighed heavily on the Toronto Stock Exchange's main index on Friday, while resource issues retreated amid softer commodity prices.

The index tumbled immediately after the opening bell following data that showed weak U.S. job growth in December and rising unemployment.

The materials and energy sectors led the TSX lower, shedding 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent respectively, hurt by weaker gold and oil prices as well as worries that slower global growth could dampen demand for resources.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) was down C$2.17, or 1.9 percent, at C$109.67, while Centerra Gold CG.TO was off 93 Canadian cents, or 6.8 percent, at C$12.73.

"The U.S. jobs numbers seem to have set everybody in a bad mood first thing this morning, and it stuck," said Julie Brough, vice-president at Morgan Meighen & Associates.

"It increased the concerns that the U.S. would fall into a recession, which is causing weakness across the board."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 199.62 points, or 1.43 percent, at 13,778.58 -- its steepest decline in nearly three weeks. All of the TSX's 10 main groups finished lower.   Continued...