CANADA STOCKS-TSX falls on gold, oil as hopes for rally fade

Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:34am EST
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* U.S. crude falls 3.5 pct

* Gold price weakens

* Market to close at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT)

(Adds details)

TORONTO, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index was lower on Wednesday morning as weak gold and energy prices dimmed hopes for a yearend rally.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 24.07 points, or 0.3 percent, at 8.287.84. The market was set to close at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Wednesday ahead of Christmas Day.

Energy issues, which were off 1.4 percent, led the way down as the price for U.S. crude oil fell 3.5 percent to under the $38 a barrel mark.

Among heavyweight energy shares falling were Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote), which was off 2.8 percent at C$42.80, and EnCana Corp (ECA.TO: Quote), which was down 2.5 percent at C$50.77.

"There's not going to be a Christmas rally, which is what everybody was hoping for and part of the reason up here is that oil remains a heavy drag on our market," said John Ing, president at Maison Placements Canada.   Continued...