May 21, 2008 / 8:38 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks hit hard by profit-taking

3 Min Read

(Updates official closing numbers, adds details, quotes)

* Late-day losses takes index sharply lower

* Energy stocks hit by profit-taking

TORONTO, May 21 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index ended a volatile session sharply lower on Wednesday, as profit-taking hit energy issues, sparking a broad late-day selloff following recent record highs.

After pushing higher earlier in the day, oil and gas companies reversed, while crude hit a record high over $133 a barrel after an unexpected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles.

The energy group, whose heavy weighting has been largely responsible for the Toronto index's recent run-up, lost 1.5 percent. Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO was down C$1.43, or 1.4 percent, at C$103.93, while Suncor Energy (SU.TO) slipped C$1.39, or 1.9 percent, to C$70.98.

"It looks like there's some profit-taking starting in the oils," said Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd. in Calgary. "Some of these oils that were really running hard are coming off from the morning."

"When you get that kind of rise in commodities - fast, furious, quick - everyone wants to take some (money) off the table."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 256.97 points, or 1.71 percent, at 14,790.37 with all but one of its 10 main sectors negative.

Since last week, the benchmark has been roaring to record highs, culminating with Tuesday's rise above 15,000 for the first time.

Fertilizer company Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) was the biggest decliner by weight on Wednesday, shedding C$9.70, or 4.8 percent, to C$192.00.

That drop helped the materials sector to a loss of 2.2 percent. Also in the group, Agrium (AGU.TO) was down C$4.15, or 4.7 percent, at C$83.78.

Financials, the biggest sector in the index, fell 1.5 percent. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) was off C$1.90, or 2.6 percent, at C$71.51, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) stumbled C$1.14, or 1.7 percent, to C$67.10. ($1=$0.98 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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