* Energy, gold issues retreat as resource prices fall
* Financials pressured by British bank bailout
* Light trading seen Tuesday with Obama inauguration (Adds details, analysts comments)
By Natalie Armstrong
TORONTO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed moderately lower on Monday as weakness in commodity prices pulled down energy and gold mining issues.
As well, continuing concerns about the health of the banking industry weighed down the index’s financials group.
The energy sector fell 2.02 percent as the price of oil lost more than $2 to end at $34 a barrel after Russia and Ukraine ended a dispute over gas supplies and a ceasefire took hold in Gaza.
“You’re seeing less of a war threat in the oil price right now and it’s back to the fundamentals of the business, which is supply and demand,” said Brian Pow, vice-president, research and equity analyst’ at Acumen Capital Partners in Calgary, Alberta.
“With recession or potential recession in the U.S., demand will probably continue to fall, which means it’s just going to push prices down.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 78.92 points, or 0.88 percent, at 8,841.38, breaking a two-session winning streak.
Six of the TSX’s 10 main sectors advanced but the three most heavily weighted groups -- materials, energy and financials -- pulled down the overall index. The fourth decliner was the small healthcare group, down 1 percent.
The materials group lost 1 percent as the price of gold dragged gold miners down.
Losses in materials were cushioned by gains made by fertilizer company Agrium Inc (AGU.TO), which was up 1.1 percent to C$42.50.
Financial issues also weighed on the TSX, a day ahead of a widely expected 50 basis point Bank of Canada rate cut. The sector sagged 1.7 percent on concerns for the international banking sector, as Britain launched a multibillion-pound rescue plan for its banks. [ID:nLJ676404]
“(The financial sector is) not out of the woods and the banks may need some sort of support from the government bodies to get through what we’re going through right now,” Pow said.
U.S. markets were closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one day ahead of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the new U.S. president.
The U.S. holiday resulted in light trade on the Toronto market and that is expected to continue through Tuesday.
“People will be watching the inauguration rather than watching the tape,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
$1=$1.25 Canadian Reporting by Natalie Armstrong; editing by Rob Wilson