CANADA STOCKS-TSX falls on financials, miners rise

Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:45pm EST
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* Financials drop on economic worries, Madoff scandal

* Materials lone bright spot as gold rises. (Adds comments, official close)

By Cameron French

TORONTO, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index fell on Monday as energy prices gave back early gains, while economic worries and concern over the impact of a massive U.S. investment fund fraud weighed on financial issues.

Financials dropped 2.34 percent, led by Sun Life Financial, SLF.TO, which was down 4.9 percent to C$23.40, and National Bank of Canada NA.TO, which slid 7.1 percent to C$28.32.

The sector, which has plunged under the weight of recession worries and a financial crisis, got no help from revelations by several global institutions of exposure to a massive $50 billion fraud allegedly masterminded by U.S. investment manager Bernard Madoff.

"The current economic climate doesn't help, and then to have a massive fraud with all it's implications of who knows who may be affected," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the session down 53.62 points, or 0.63 percent, at 8,461.83.

Nine of the 10 TSX subgroups fell during the session, with materials showing the only gains, rising 3.55 percent on the back of a 2 percent gain in gold prices.   Continued...