4 Min Read
* TSX slides 0.17 pct to finish at 13,403.10
* Five of 10 sectors fall, led by 1.1 pct drop in energy
* Sino-Forest drops as company cancels tour of its assets (Adds details)
TORONTO, July 6 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended a six-day streak of gains on Wednesday as an interest rate hike in China and Europe's debt woes pushed oil and gas shares sharply lower.
The Chinese rate hike, the third this year, pushed down oil and other commodity prices on fears of reduced demand and that weighed heavily on Toronto's energy sector. [O/R]
Influential index decliners were led by Cenovus Energy CVE.TO, down 2.6 percent at C$35.55, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) dropped more than 0.9 percent to C$41.13.
The decline in oil and gas shares was offset by a flight to safe-haven gold and to gold and silver mining shares, spurred by ongoing concern about the euro zone debt crisis after Portugal's credit rating was downgraded. [GOL/]
"If you're in golds, you're pretty happy with the way things are going. It's a spillover from the Portugal downgrade," said Sal Masionis, stockbroker at Brant Securities.
Top advancers were mostly precious metal miners, led by Silver Wheaton SLW.TO, up 5.5 percent at C$35.02, while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) followed with a 0.84 percent rise to C$44.64.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 22.20 points, or 0.17 percent, to finish at 13,403.10. Half of the index's 10 main groups slid, led down by a 1.1 percent drop in the energy sector.
Market sentiment, already fragile after the Portugal downgrade, was further pressured by softer-than-expected U.S. data. The pace of growth in the U.S. services sector dipped modestly in June, while prices paid fell to the lowest level since August 2010. [ID:nN1E7650GW]
The Institute for Supply Management said its services index fell to 53.3 last month from 54.6 in May. The reading fell shy of economists' forecasts for 54.0, according to a Reuters survey.
The most influential data this week will come on Friday with jobs reports for June from the United States and Canada on tap.
In individual company news, shares of embattled Chinese forestry company Sino-Forest TRE.TO dropped more than 20 percent early in the session, but halved those losses by session's end. [ID:nN1E76502A]
The stock dropped after Sino-Forest said it is postponing a tour of its forestry assets because many analysts have halted coverage of the company. Sino-Forest ended down 10.2 percent at C$4.75
The value of Sino-Forest shares and bonds collapsed last month after short-seller Muddy Waters accused the company of fraudulently exaggerating the size of its forest assets.
"If you look at the metrics, possibly there's some value there," said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services. "If they have these trees, and they have this cash minus the debt, it's worth more than four or five dollars a share, no question.
"But if the Muddy Waters allegations are correct, then you shouldnt be touching the stock."
Churchill Corp CUQ.TO surged more than 8 percent to end at C$18.30 after the building and construction company said it has won more than C$500 million worth of work in Western Canada. [ID:nN1E7650NO]
($1=$0.97 Canadian) (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway)