UPDATE 3-Resource issues take wind out of Toronto stocks

Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:54pm EDT
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO, April 24 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index pared early losses but still ended more than 100 points lower on Thursday, dragged down by resource issues, which dropped with tumbling commodity prices.

Oil and gas producer Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) fell C$3.96, or 4.5 percent, to C$83.25, as crude oil prices dropped amid gains by the U.S. dollar. Oil settled down $2.24 at $116.06 a barrel, putting it further away from its recent record peak near $120.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote) slid C$1.72, or 1.5 percent, to C$114.28 after it posted an increase in profit, but cut its production target for the year as oil sands output fell behind expectations. Overall, the energy sector gave up 3.2 percent.

"It's been a very strong run; we've seen the commodity prices pull off quite a bit," said Brian Pow, vice-president, research and equity analyst at Acumen Capital Partners, in Calgary.

"I think people thought maybe we were at a top and are going to sit on the sidelines for the next little while and just watch what goes on."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 103.47 points, or 0.74 percent, at 13,966.33 with four of its 10 main sectors lower.

The downward trend was underscored by Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote), even though the fertilizer company reported that its first-quarter profit nearly tripled and raised its expectations for the rest of the year due to surging fertilizer demand and prices.   Continued...