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By Leah Schnurr
TORONTO, April 8 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index snapped its six-day winning streak and closed slightly lower on Tuesday, hurt by softer commodities and recurrent worries over the impact of the U.S. economic slowdown.
Shares of gold producers lost 1.7 percent as the price of bullion was stung by profit-taking. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) was among the day’s biggest weighted decliners, giving up C$1.09, or 2.4 percent, to C$43.60, while Goldcorp was down 92 Canadian cents, or 2.3 percent, at C$40.03.
Shares of other resource companies offset some of the losses, including Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO), which was up C$2.62, or 1.5 percent, at C$178.27, and Fording Canadian Coal Trust FDG_u.TO, which rose C$4.37, or 7.1 percent, to C$65.63. The materials sector as a whole edged down 0.2 percent.
Analysts said market sentiment was shaken by a report from the International Monetary Fund that forecast writedown losses related to the credit crisis could reach $945 billion. As well, the U.S. earnings season got off to a weak start with a disappointing quarterly profit from Alcoa (AA.N) on Monday.
Gavin Graham, chief investment officer at Guardian Group of Funds, said that along with soft oil and gold prices, which are major drivers for the resource-heavy TSX, the “reminder that things are not great in the States” helped pull the Toronto index down.
“I think you got a bunch of really lousy first-quarter results out of the States, starting with Alcoa, so it’s difficult to get too enthused when it’s very obvious exactly how bad things are south of border,” Graham said.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 17.48 points, or 0.13 percent, at 13,727.53 with seven of its 10 main sectors lower and one flat.
Banking issues gave up 0.7 percent amid fresh trouble in the financial markets as U.S. savings and loan Washington Mutual (WM.N) said it expects a quarterly loss of $1.1 billion, while it secured a $7 billion capital injection.
Among Toronto financials, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) was off 90 Canadian cents, or 1.3 percent, at C$68.00, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) dipped 46 Canadian cents, or 1 percent, to C$46.66.
Research In Motion RIM.TO was among the biggest individual gainers on the benchmark, with the BlackBerry maker rising C$2.60, or 2.2 percent, to C$122.58.
The energy sector managed to eke out a gain of 0.4 percent even though crude prices weakened. Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) moved up C$1.11, or 2.1 percent, to C$54.80, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) added C$1.35, or 1.8 percent, to C$75.03.
The only other sector on the upside was the small utilities group, which was ahead 0.4 percent, while the industrials sector was flat.
The TSX had seen a rally in the past two weeks and over the course of six sessions added nearly 4 percent, as some confidence returned to the market. But the index has also seen rampant volatility from one development to the next.
“This market can turn on a dime,” said Adrian Mastracci, portfolio manager and president at KCM Wealth Management Inc., in Vancouver.
“The excitement that we had has probably toned down. I think we’re still looking for it, but for the moment, investors are clearly saying there is a problem here.”
Market volume was 346 million shares worth C$5.7 billion. Decliners outpaced advancers 915 to 659. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed up 0.06 of a point, or 0.01 percent, at 808.12.
In New York, Washington Mutual’s woes took a toll on financial stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed down 35.99 points, or 0.29 percent, at 12,576.44, while the Nasdaq composite index .IXIC was off 16.07 points, or 0.68 percent, to 2,348.76.
$1=$1.01 Canadian Editing by Rob Wilson