UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks hit by financials, U.S. worries

Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:38pm EST
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(Updates numbers, adds detail)

TORONTO Feb 14 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index retreated on Thursday, dragged down by a selloff in financial and materials issues, amid persistent uneasiness about the outlook for the U.S. economy.

Sun Life Financial Inc SLF.TO was one of the biggest weights on the TSX, after its fourth-quarter profit missed the Street's expectations. Sun Life, Canada's third-largest life insurer, lost C$1.79, or 3.6 percent, to C$47.37, while the financial sector gave up 1.2 percent.

Also in the banking group, Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO slid 96 Canadian cents, or 1.4 percent, to C$65.54 and Bank of Montreal BMO.TO fell 67 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, to C$54.50.

The materials sector sagged 0.9 percent, while shares of Lundin Mining Corp LUN.TO dove after the company gave revenue and production forecasts that it said were lower than analysts had been expecting. The base metal miner was down 96 Canadian cents, or 11 percent, at C$7.75.

North American markets reacted negatively to comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who kept the door open to more interest rate cuts, but said the outlook for the U.S. economy had worsened in recent months and that risks to growth had increased.

However, Bernanke said he expects an uptick in growth in the second half of the year.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 74.27 points, or 0.56 percent, at 13,208.03 with seven of its 10 main groups lower.

The energy sector was the strongest throughout the day, but finished up just 0.3 percent after earlier climbing as much as 1.2 percent, as rising crude and natural gas prices lifted the group. The sector was also lifted by gains from EnCana Corp ECA.TO after its profit jumped on climbing prices and production. Canada's largest oil and gas company, rose 77 Canadian cents, or 1.1 percent, to C$70.77.

($1=$1.00 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Rob Wilson)