CANADA STOCKS-TSX slides to lowest close since Oct. 2003

Mon Mar 9, 2009 4:51pm EDT
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* TSX closes 0.32 percent lower at 7,566.94

* Marks lowest close since October 2003

* Materials and financials behind latest selloff (Adds comments, details)

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO, March 9 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended at its lowest close in more than five years on Monday as weaker gold prices dragged down materials shares while bank worries weighed on financial issues.

The drop in gold prices knocked the Toronto Stock Exchange's broader materials sector -- home to many of the country's top gold miners -- down by 0.98 percent, while concerns over the outlook for the global banking sector sent financials down 2.5 percent.

Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote), the biggest contributor to the TSX's latest selloff, fell 3 percent to C$36.56 while Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO: Quote) skidded 1.95 percent to C$36.24.

"There's really not a lot of traction in the marketplace," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds. "People are very unsure ... and in Canada they are waiting for Friday's unemployment number for February."

A 3 percent rally by the energy sector, which accounts for about 20 percent of the broader TSX index, helped cushion the slide as U.S. crude oil futures ended higher.   Continued...