* TSX down 0.14 percent at 11,692.51
* Banks in focus after recent rally, results start Thurs
* Golds lose luster with retreating bullion price (Adds details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index eased on Monday as early support from firm oil and gold prices faded, while financials came under pressure after their recent run-up.
Some profit-taking was overdue, analysts said, after the TSX index had risen for eight straight sessions.
Financials were a mixed group. Some were among the top heavyweight decliners, including Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), down 0.7 percent at C$56.70, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), down 0.13 percent at C$47.74. But Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) and Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) headed the other way, with each rising about 0.4 percent.
The financials were also in the spotlight as first-quarter results for the banks will start being published later this week, kicking off with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) on Thursday.
Having weathered the global financial crisis better than most lenders, Canada’s big banks are expected to report unimpressive profits in their first quarter, due to the lingering effects of the recession and consequent loan losses. [ID:nN18224892]
At 10:48 a.m. (1548 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 16.78 points, or 0.14 percent, at 11,692.51, after opening slightly higher.
“There’s certainly an element of profit-taking. I think that this has been such a skittish market that we are seeing some people at the margins trading a little bit more aggressively and taking profits early when they can,” said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung & Co Investment Counsel.
Gold stocks were also among the weak issues on Monday as the price of gold retreated from one-month highs. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) was off 1.5 percent at C$40.38, while Goldcorp (G.TO) skidded 0.6 percent to C$40.09.
A big deal in the oilfield services industry in the United States shone the spotlight on the TSX’s resource group, but the declining price of oil limited the sector’s advance. [ID:nN21150468] [O/R]
Market players were also still assessing the implications of the Federal Reserve’s move to hike its discount rate, which has raised speculation that the U.S. central bank might raise its key fed funds rate earlier than expected. Greece’s unresolved debt woes also remained on investors’ radar.
$1=$1.04 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson