January 15, 2008 / 10:45 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 4-Financials, resources lead Toronto stock plunge

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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index plunged close to 400 points on Tuesday, in its biggest slide in more than five months, amid more writedowns in the banking sector.

Heightened fears of a U.S. recession, declining commodity prices and massive writedowns from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) and U.S. bank Citigroup (C.N) helped the index erase all its gains made since the end of November.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 381.50 points, or 2.79 percent, at 13,316.78, with all 10 of its main sectors lower.

CIBC, Canada's fifth-biggest bank, shed C$2.07, or 2.9 percent, to C$70.00 the day after it said it would issue C$2.75 billion in new shares and take additional pretax writedowns of $2.46 billion for U.S. subprime mortgage-related securities.

The financial sector, which fell 2.3 percent, was also stung by Citigroup's record $9.83 billion quarterly loss.

The biggest U.S. bank also said it would raise $14.5 billion in new capital, cut its dividend and slash 4.200 jobs to shore up its balance sheet.

"The financial sector has historically been one of the linchpins of the Canadian market," said Peter Chandler, senior vice-president at Canaccord Capital in Waterloo, Ontario. "And obviously that faith is being shaken right now."

"The fact that (CIBC) had to issue as much stock at as deep a discount to the market, after the market had already pulled off that much, tells you the degree to which they needed the money," said Chandler.

In Toronto, all the major banks tumbled, with Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) down C$1.72, or 3 percent, at C$55.79, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) off C$1.19, or 2.5 percent, at C$47.21.

Resource issues also fell amid worries that a U.S. recession could spark a global slowdown and slash demand for commodities.

The energy and materials sectors lost 3.5 percent and 3.9 percent respectively as oil and gold prices both retreated amid jitters over the health of the U.S. economy after data showed a decline in December retail sales.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) slid C$2.12, or 7.3 percent, to C$26.94, while fertilizer giant Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) was down C$7.03, or 4.6 percent, at C$145.83.

Shares of Talisman Energy Inc TLM.TO were lower after the company said it would cut spending by 6 percent this year and predicted only a slight boost in output.

Talisman, Canada's No. 3 independent oil producer, closed down C$1.04 or 5.4 percent, at C$18.32.

The gold subsector gave up 3.9 percent, but is still up nearly 17 percent since the beginning of the year, boosted by the record highs for bullion prices.

Market volume was a hefty 448 million shares worth C$9.6 billion. Decliners outpaced advancers 1,222 to 404. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed down 25.40 points, or 3.15 percent, at 779.93.

U.S. stocks also slumped, dragged down by Citigroup's big loss and deepening fears over the health of the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 277.04 points, or 2.17 percent, at 12,501.11, while the Nasdaq composite index .IXIC fell 60.71 points, or 2.45 percent, to 2,417.59.

$1=$1.02 Canadian Editing by Rob Wilson

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