UPDATE 4-Profit-taking, resources drag Toronto stocks down

Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:15pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, April 23 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index skidded nearly 200 points on Wednesday as falling bullion prices took the luster out of gold-mining stocks, and the energy sector was stung by profit-taking.

Shares of energy and resource companies led the way down, with Agnico-Eagle Mines AEM.TO sliding C$3.95, or 5.7 percent, to C$65.25 and Suncor Energy SU.TO giving up C$5.07, or 4.2 percent, at C$116.00.

Overall, the gold subindex shed 3.5 percent and helped take 3.2 percent off its larger materials sector, while bullion was pressured by the U.S. dollar's rise.

The oil and gas sector gave up 1.8 percent as investors locked in profits after the recent steep advance of crude prices. Oil was up 23 cents at $118.30 a barrel amid a decline in gasoline stocks.

"I think you can fully expect some profit-taking," said Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean & Partners Wealth Management Ltd in Calgary. "It was quite a run-up the last month here."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 196.54 points, or 1.38 percent, at 14,069.80 with seven of its 10 main sectors in a downturn.

Also hurting the resource-laden materials group were declines by big fertilizer companies. Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO fell C$8.80, or 4.1 percent, to C$206.50, and Agrium AGU.TO sagged C$4.80, or 5.2 percent, to C$88.25 respectively.   Continued...