June 11, 2008 / 2:59 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks slip after strong start

3 Min Read

(Updates to midmorning)

*Stocks retreat after pushing higher at the open

*Agrium jumps after profit outlook boosted

*Forzani falls after reports quarter loss

TORONTO, June 11 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index reversed course to slip lower on Wednesday, as nagging worries about the economy offset a gain in Agrium (AGU.TO) after it boosted its profit outlook.

Agrium was the top net gainer, up C$7.23, or 7.7 percent, at C$101.46, after the fertilizer company upped its second-quarter outlook. But the company also warned that a syndicate of banks funding its joint venture in Egypt alleged "a condition of default" after a halt in construction at the site.

The resource space trimmed earlier gains while the broader market sagged, dragged down by unease over the prospect of rising inflation the day after the Bank of Canada said price hikes were the top risk to the economy.

"I think inflation is becoming more and more of a concern," said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung & Co. Investment Counsel. "People are getting more concerned about how those higher oil prices are going to be affecting the economy for the foreseeable future."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 31.17 points, or 0.2 percent, at 14,705.03 after climbing as high as 14,817.09 shortly after the open. Of its 10 main sectors, eight were looking down.

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO), the world's largest fertilizer company, came in second in terms of gains on the index, advancing C$3.90, or 1.7 percent, to C$228.78. Chief executive Bill Doyle told a conference in Toronto that fertilizer prices are not near their peak.

"Fertilizer is just becoming a bit of a mania," said Sprung. "(The companies) are getting bigger and they're getting to dominate the index to some extent."

The gains, as well as a small lift from miners, helped the materials sector add 1.2 percent. The energy group rose 0.4 percent, taking back earlier gains, while oil advanced.

Shares of sporting goods retailer Forzani Group FGL.TO slid C$1.22, or 7.4 percent, to C$15.28 after it reported a quarterly loss amid low inventory.

The financial sector fell 1.1 percent, with Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO down 88 Canadian cents, or 1.3 percent, at C$67.36, while Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) slipped 86 Canadian cents, or 1.7 percent, to C$48.70. ($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Scott Anderson)

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