CANADA STOCKS-TSX falls to five-year low, hurt by econ fears

Fri Mar 6, 2009 5:37pm EST
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* TSX ends session down 0.49 percent at 7,591.47

* TSX briefly touches lowest level since October 2003

* Ends week 6.5 percent lower (Adds details and comments)

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO, March 6 (Reuters) - Toronto's key stock index ended at its lowest closing level in five years on Friday, as early strength credited to a better-than-expected U.S. jobs report faded, replaced by fears about the severity of the economic downturn.

The index, which fell as much as 2 percent to its lowest intraday level since October, 2003, pared much of its losses late in the session, as higher oil prices helped boost energy shares.

But the rebound fell short and left the index just below the break-even level for the day as weakness in the technology, financial and materials sectors combined to more than offset the energy rally.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM.TO, one of the key drags on the index, ended down 4.55 percent at C$46.60, insurer Manulife Financial (MFC.TO: Quote) fell 3.5 percent to C$9.65, and gold producer Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) skidded 1.6 percent to C$37.82.

"We saw strength earlier in the day but it's been a familiar pattern where if you see some strength, the selling invariably starts and markets again trend lower," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.   Continued...