October 23, 2009 / 8:41 PM / in 8 years

CANADA STOCKS-TSX tumbles on weaker oil, Agrium outlook

 * 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).
 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. [ID:nBNG237646]
 “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) 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 C$105.95.
 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) dropped 2.73 percent to C$63.10. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) 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)   

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