UPDATE 6-Toronto stocks plunge 600 pts on economic fears

Mon Jan 21, 2008 5:36pm EST
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO Jan 21 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index plunged more than 600 points on Monday, its biggest drop since October 2000, as fears of a U.S. recession dragged the index to its lowest close in more than a year.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 604.99 points, or 4.75 percent, at 12,132.13 with all of its 10 sectors in negative territory. It was the biggest one-day net drop since Oct. 25, 2000, when it closed down 840.26 points.

In the past five sessions, the S&P/TSX composite has lost more than 1,500 points, or 11.4 percent, wiping out all of 2007's gains. Monday was the lowest closing level since early November of 2006.

Resource issues led Monday's freefall, with the energy and materials sectors each giving up 5.7 percent. The groups have been stung by worries that demand for resources could be dampened by an economic slowdown.

Commodity prices weighed on the sectors, as oil and gold prices fell, following the direction of global stocks.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) tumbled C$4.52, or 4.9 percent, to C$88.32, while Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote) was down C$5.93, or 4.7 percent, at C$119.57.

The heavyweight financial sector shed 3.9 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) and Manulife Financial (MFC.TO: Quote) hitting 52-week lows. Royal finished down C$1.79, or 3.8 percent, at C$45.92, while Manulife was off 88 Canadian cents, or 2.4 percent, at C$35.66.   Continued...