CANADA STOCKS-TSX tumbles on weaker oil, Agrium outlook

Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:37pm EDT
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 * S&P/TSX composite sheds 1.3 percent
 * Weak oil, Agrium and profit taking blamed
 * Energy off 2 pct, financials down 1.23 pct
 * Agrium drops 7 pct after weak outlook given
 (Adds official closing data, comments, detail)
 By Wojtek Dabrowski
 TORONTO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index fell
more than 1 percent in a broad slump on Friday, dragged lower
by softer oil prices and a weak outlook from fertilizer
producer Agrium Inc (AGU.TO: Quote).
 Every one of the 10 main groups of the benchmark paced
lower, including the heavyweight energy and financials groups,
which lost 2.01 percent and 1.23 percent, respectively.
 The resources-laden materials group gave up 0.94 percent.
 The weak trading session came after Agrium said it expects
quarterly earnings to be 90 percent to 95 percent below those
of the year-earlier period. The shares dropped 7.1 percent.
 "Obviously, it's a big blow," said Gavin Graham, director
of investments at BMO Asset Management. However, he added that
after a weak profit report from rival Potash Corp of
Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote) on Thursday, "it shouldn't have been a
major surprise."
 Agrium was the day's second biggest net loser, shedding
C$4.21 to finish at C$55.52. Potash fell 2 percent, to end at
 Meanwhile, oil fell towards $80 a barrel as a stronger U.S.
dollar and doubts over the pace of economic recovery choked
crude's recent rally. [O/R]
 Canadian energy giant EnCana Corp (ECA.TO: Quote) dropped 2.73
percent to C$63.10. Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) gave up 2.12 percent
to finish at C$38.37.
 Overall, the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE dropped
151.24 points, or 1.31 percent, to end at 11,382.13.
 Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at Brant Securities, said that
profit-taking played a role in Friday's session, given the
recent rally in stocks.
 In early October, the index retreated to about 10,900. This
week, it almost crested 11,600.
 He said the recent surge doesn't necessarily mean that
investor confidence has returned to the market.
 "I think there's still a tremendous amount of nervousness
out there," he said. "The system still under big stress."
 ($1=$1.05 Canadian)
 (Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Frank McGurty)