* TSX drops 8.18 points, or 0.06 percent, at 13,193.28
* Seven of the 10 main groups were higher
* Financial group down 1 percent
* Materials and energy groups lone gainers (Adds details)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index closed lower on Monday on profit-taking among hefty financial stocks as worries about Europe’s sovereign debt intensified.
Financial stocks ended 1 percent lower and led seven of the index’s 10 main sectors into negative territory. Four of the Canada’s big banks fell. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was the weightiest decliner, down 2.33 percent at C$70.52. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) followed, dropping 1.4 percent to C$50.78, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) eased 0.92 percent to C$56.08.
“This smacks of last-minute profit-taking. We are very close to the year-end,” said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities.
Continuing fears of more ratings downgrades for indebted euro zone countries and banks weighed on the sector.
Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) extended its slide, falling 2.41 percent to C$56.60 as analysts slashed share-price targets following the bank’s $4.1 billion deal to buy Wisconsin lender Marshall & Ilsley Corp last week. [ID:nN20206439]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 8.18 points, or 0.06 percent, at 13,193.28. After spending the day in positive territory, the index began to slip 30 minutes before the close, turning negative at the close.
Moody’s Investors Service said it may cut the ratings on Spanish banks following its multi-notch downgrade of Ireland’s credit rating last week, while speculation has risen that France and Belgium may also face cuts. [ID:nLDE6BJ1G1]
“That issue is something that’s been coming up off and on for the last few months now,” Picardo said. “There’s really no sense of panic, but it’s an issue that’s very much front and center for most investors and it does have the tendency to affect the financial sector more than anything else.”
The lone advancing groups were the energy and materials heavyweights. The technology sector finished flat.
Energy stocks were up 0.79 percent. Talisman Energy TLM.TO was the most influential mover, jumping 4.79 percent to C$21.89. South Africa’s Sasol said on Monday it will pay C$1.05 billion for a stake in one of Talisman’s share gas properties. [ID:nLDE6BJ04G]
Suncor Energy (SU.TO) gained 0.94 percent to C$36.64.
“The price of oil was up, gas was up, the cold weather everywhere is having an impact,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
Oil price gains were tempered by a stronger U.S. dollar and the euro zone debt concerns. [O/R]
Gold miners helped give the index’s materials group a 0.48 percent lift. Goldcorp (G.TO) shares gained 1.38 percent to C$45.59, while Agnico Eagle (AEM.TO) climbed 2.07 percent to C$78.04.
Gold prices climbed as investors looked for a safe haven from euro zone jitters and tensions in Korea following a 90 minute-plus live-fire artillery drill by South Korea on Monday. [ID:nL3E6NK01M]
Tempering gains in the materials group was a 1.51 percent decline in Teck Resources TCKb.TO, which finished at C$57.51.
BCE (BCE.TO), the parent company of Bell Canada, was off 1.46 percent at C$35.20. Canadian regulators said after markets closed on Monday they had fined Bell Canada C$1.3 million for violating rules that prohibited telemarketers from calling consumers registered on a national “do not call” list. [ID:nN20105079]
($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Peter Galloway)