UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks tumble on economic jitters

Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:20pm EDT
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TORONTO, April 11 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index dropped more than 200 points on Friday, on fears of a weak earnings season and worries over the broader economy.

U.S. blue chip General Electric (GE.N: Quote) set the tone early in the day posting disappointing earnings that rattled markets across North America.

Soft commodity prices undercut the energy and materials sectors adding to the downward pressure on the TSX.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) was down C$3.25, or 3 percent, at C$106.59, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) shed C$1.06, or 1.3 percent, at C$78.76. Soft oil prices helped the energy sector lose 1.4 percent.

The materials sector, home to resource shares, took its cue from weak gold prices. Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO: Quote) fell 96 Canadian cents, or 1.3 percent, to C$70.81 while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) was down C$1.17, or 2.6 percent, at C$43.83. The sector slid 1.6 percent.

John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada, said that although GE's first-quarter profit fell 6 percent, the fact that profit at it financial services arms fell about 20 percent sharply increased concerns about the credit crisis.

"GE's problems are on the financials side, (which) drew attention to how widespread the contagion (is), and that dented enthusiasm," said Ing.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 210.60 points, or 1.51 percent, at 13,698.98 by Friday afternoon, with all but one of its 10 main sectors falling.   Continued...