January 16, 2008 / 10:20 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 4-Toronto stocks hit 5-mth low as resources slump

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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index closed at its lowest level in five months on Wednesday, extending the previous day's heavy losses, as resource shares tumbled alongside commodity prices.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 241.92 points, or 1.82 percent, at 13,074.86 with all but one of its 10 main sectors on the downside.

The index has plunged more than 600 points over the two sessions, amid deepening fears of a U.S. recession and the possibility of a global economic slowdown.

Resource issues were the biggest culprits on Wednesday, with the energy and materials sectors shedding 3 percent and 3.9 percent respectively, yanked lower by declining gold and oil prices amid concerns that economic turmoil could dampen demand for resources.

Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) and Suncor Energy (SU.TO) were among the biggest net decliners. Potash sank C$7.83, or 5.4 percent, to C$138.00, while Suncor fell C$4.60, or 4.6 percent, to C$96.01.

"It's basically the commodities complex," said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.

"The mines have been weak today, the golds have been weak, the energy stocks have been weak -- that's usually the death-knell for the Canadian market."

The index bounced back from earlier lows, when it briefly slid below the 13,000 mark, but it still finished at it lowest level since mid-August amid the global credit crunch. The index has lost more than 5 percent since the start of 2008.

"I think we needed to let the market panic, you could almost sense the anxiety that had been building up and building up," said Julie Brough, vice-president at Morgan Meighen & Associates. "I think we needed to let that out."

The tech sector was the lone group on the upside, edging up 0.6 percent, with Cognos Inc CSN.TO adding 52 Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, to C$58.92.

The heavyweight banking sector was little changed, down 0.01 percent, as some financial shares moved higher. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) rose C$1.34, or 2.1 percent, to C$66.50, while Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) was down 74 Canadian cents, or 1.3 percent, at C$55.05.

Shares of Quebecor World Inc IQW.TO tumbled as investors waited to find out from the commercial printer's banks if they will force it to seek protection from creditors. Quebecor World dropped 29 Canadian cents, or 60.6 percent, to 19 Canadian cents.

Tahera Diamond TAH.TO also sagged, falling 6.5 Canadian cents, or 46 percent, to 7.5 Canadian cents, after it said it won court protection from creditors after a financing plan fell through, leaving it unable to meet financial obligations.

Market volume was a heavy 491 million shares worth C$9.7 billion. Decliners easily outpaced advancers 1,144 to 512. The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed down 14.30 points, or 1.83 percent, at 765.63.

U.S. stocks also ended lower after a choppy session, weighed down by Intel Corp's (INTC.O) disappointing profit and outlook.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed down 34.95 points, or 0.28 percent, at 12,466.16, while the Nasdaq composite index .IXIC slipped 23 points, or 0.95 percent, to 2,394.59.

$1=$1.02 Canadian Editing by Rob Wilson

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