* TSX down 5.97 points, or 0.04 percent, at 13,646.30
* Nine of 10 main sectors lower
* Materials’ advance limits downside (Adds analyst comment, further details)
TORONTO, May 24 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index was little changed on Tuesday morning as renewed concerns about the euro zone’s ongoing debt problems weighed on most of the index, except for the mining-heavy materials group.
Most TSX sectors were playing catch-up with sharp declines in major markets on Monday when Canadian financial markets were closed for a holiday. The declines were fueled by risk of multi-notch credit downgrades in some euro zone countries.
New warnings about contagion fueled fears the euro zone crisis is heading for a new, more dangerous phase. Greece, if it defaults, has been tipped as a possible trigger that could drag a new group of countries -- including Group of Eight member Italy -- into trouble.
Rating agency Moody’s said a Greek debt default would put Portugal and Ireland at risk of multi-notch credit downgrades. For details, see [ID:nLDE74N0AQ]
That risk, along with a softer profile for global growth, has put some pressure on stocks in recent weeks.
“Those events are now back on the table,” said Barry Schwartz, vice-president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
“Investors are looking at their portfolios and they’ve had doubles on many of their stocks over the past two years and you’re not gong to have that kind of performance going forward.”
At 10:50 a.m. (1450 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 5.97 points, or 0.04 percent, at 13,646.30. Nine of the index’s 10 main sectors were down.
Materials, up 1.11 percent, was the only advancing group, bolstered by its gold-mining and fertilizer constituents. The price of gold hit a two-week high on euro zone debt worries.
Potash Corp (POT.TO) rose 3 percent to C$52.12, while Agrium (AGU.TO) gained 1.7 percent to C$79.20. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) climbed 2.4 percent to C$45.45, while Goldcorp (G.TO) pushed up 1.7 percent to C$48.31.
Financials were off 0.6 percent, ahead of this week’s earnings reports from the country’s big banks. After prospering so long from a resilient domestic housing market, Canada’s banks may soon start feeling some pressure as mortgage lending begins to cool down across the country. [ID:nN20244603] (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson)