CANADA STOCKS-TSX drops but decline narrows after US data

Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:50am EST
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* U.S. consumer confidence rises, helps TSX cut losses

* Energy group leads way lower, oil drops to around $57

* Weekend G20 talks on global financial crisis in focus

TORONTO, Nov 14 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index dropped early Friday on a slide in oil prices, but the decline narrowed after a U.S. report showed consumer confidence unexpectedly rose, easing jitters about an economic downturn.

Consumer sentiment improved in November, according to a Reuters/University of Michigan report, as tumbling gasoline prices offset worries about unemployment and recession. [ID:nN14303681 The surprise reading helped alleviate the worst fears of investors stunned by an earlier report showing a record decline in U.S. retail sales last month.

The consumer confidence reading was "a positive -- we'll probably see slight increase in the Dow and the TSX," said Steve Ibel, an institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Shortly after 10:10 a.m. (1510 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 147.05 points, or 1.6 percent, to 9,205.70. It pared early losses of nearly 2 percent at the open from declines led by the energy group on the falling price of oil to around $57 a barrel.

All but one of the index's 10 main sectors were in the red. The consumer staples group eked out a small gain.

The market was also focusing on news coming out of a weekend meeting of world leaders in Washington on a strategy to deal with the global financial crisis. [ID:nG7G8] (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng)