February 21, 2008 / 2:22 PM / 10 years ago

Toronto stocks end lower on soft oils, financials

TORONTO (Reuters) - The main index of the Toronto Stock Exchange ended in the red on Thursday as a surge by resource issues and Research In Motion RIM.TO failed to offset weaker energy and financial sectors, which retreated on renewed worries over the U.S. economy.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 42.14 points, or 0.31 percent, to close at 13,509.55. The S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 of bluechips dipped 2.96 points to finish at 792.55.

“Unfortunately, today is one of the days when concerns about a possible recession in the U.S. are front and center in the minds of most investors,” said Elvis Picardo, investment strategist at Northern Securities in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The energy and financial sectors headlined the broad decline, shedding 1.61 percent and 0.64 percent respectively. Utilities gave up a notable 2.62 percent.

The slide came as investors around the world continued to fret over the health of the U.S. economy in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis.

“We’ve just started to see the tip of the iceberg,” said Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean & Partners Wealth Management in Calgary, Alberta. “I think the economic news is still a long way from being at its zenith in terms of the amount of bad news that could potentially come out.”

Among the few bright spots in the session, the resources-laden materials group rose 0.88 percent, while information technology was up 1.82 percent thanks to RIM.

The company, which makes the ubiquitous BlackBerry smartphone, was the day’s top net gainer, adding C$8.96, or 9 percent, to finish at C$108. The jump came after RIM forecast it will add more subscribers in its fourth quarter than earlier expected.

Gold miners also saw healthy gains as Goldcorp (G.TO) and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) both posted banner profits. Barrick also announced it would buy out Rio Tinto’s (RIO.L) stake in their Cortez gold-mining joint venture in Nevada for $1.7 billion.

Barrick, the world’s biggest producer, rose 30 Canadian cents, or 0.6 percent, to C$51.12, while Goldcorp, Canada’s second-biggest producer, added C$1.23, or 3 percent, to C$40.75.

Gold is trading around $950 per ounce, benefiting from inflation fears and a weak U.S. dollar, which lends additional support to miners’ shares.

Picardo said he expects bullion “could be on course to test $1,000 per ounce in the weeks ahead.”

However, he also cautioned that he expects a decline for the broader Toronto market following a rebound over the past several weeks.

“I really think the rally could be capped a little bit at this point ... and we might see a modest decline,” he said.

In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 142.96 points, or 1.15 percent, to end at 12,284.30. The tech-heavy Nasdaq .IXIC gave up 27.32 points, or 1.17 percent, to finish at 2,299.78.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; Editing by Rob Wilson

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