UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks hit by profit-taking, economic woes

Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:08pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index ended lower on Wednesday after a choppy session, weighed down by weaker energy stocks and persistent investor uncertainty about the state of credit markets.

Profit-taking among resource shares as well as concern over whether the price of oil will be able to maintain its recent dizzying heights helped pull the index to the downside.

The energy sector slid 1.2 percent even while the price oil, usually a key underlying commodity for the TSX, touched a new high of $110.20 a barrel, its sixth day of record highs.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) was down C$1.83, or 1.7 percent, at C$105.13, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) lost C$1.58, or 2.1 percent, to C$72.14.

Oil rallied to close higher after falling early in the session on U.S. government inventory data that showed a sharp build in crude stocks last week, as well as another gain in gasoline levels.

"I think the reason why the sector is down is probably because of those increased inventories that we heard about this morning," said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.

"That may be a one-day reason because if you really believe that ... the U.S. dollar is going to continue to weaken and oil prices are going to move higher, we'll probably see that occur tomorrow."   Continued...