January 21, 2008 / 9:59 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 5-Toronto stocks plunge 600 points on U.S. worries

(Updates with official closing numbers, adds details, quotes)

TORONTO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index plunged more than 600 points on Monday, its fifth day of heavy losses, as worries over a possible recession in the United States yanked it to its lowest close in more than a year.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 604.98 points, or 4.75 percent, at 12,132.14 with all of its 10 sectors in negative territory. It was the biggest one-day net drop since Oct. 25, 2000, when the index closed down 840.26 points.

Since last Tuesday, 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 the freefall on Monday, 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 a slowdown.

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

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) tumbled C$4.52, or 4.9 percent, to C$88.32, while Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) 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) and Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) hitting new 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.

Around the world, stocks slumped on jitters that a U.S. slowdown could lead to a slowdown in global economic growth, while markets in the United States were closed for Martin Luther King Day.

“I think there’s some people that have just thrown in the towels, as we can see, and took their signal from what happened overseas,” said Brian Pow, vice president, research and equity analyst at Acumen Capital Partners, in Calgary.

Quebecor World Inc was down 17 Canadian cents, or 50.8 percent, at 17 Canadian cents after saying it would file for creditor protection after conditions for a C$400 million ($388 million) rescue financing were not met.

$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway

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