CANADA STOCKS-TSX sags below 12,000 as commodities weigh
* TSX down 85.48 points at 11,964.33
* Materials, energy lead index lower
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, March 19 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index slipped back below the 12,000 mark on Friday morning as soft commodity prices hit energy and metal producers, and unexpectedly strong inflation data increased rate hike fears.
Oil and gold prices slipped against a strengthening safe-haven U.S. dollar on worries over Greece's debt.[O/R] [GOL/]
Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO, the country's biggest independent oil explorer, slid 0.95 percent to C$73.03, while natural gas major EnCana Corp ECA.TO dropped 1.9 percent to C$31.50.
Meanwhile, stronger than expected domestic inflation data increased expectations the Bank of Canada will hike interest rates sooner rather than later this year. [ID:nN19500487]
Higher rates are typically negative for stocks because they slow economic growth and increase borrowing costs for companies.
At 10:28 a.m. (1428 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 85.48 points, or 0.71 percent, at 11,954.33. Continued...