CANADA STOCKS-Global wave of market drops hits Toronto

Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:56am EDT
 
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* Oil, materials groups hit as commodity prices fall

* Toronto follows plunges at other major stock markets

TORONTO Oct 24 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index dropped 6.5 percent at the open on Friday, in line with a wave of sharp drops on equity markets worldwide as recession fears gained momentum, and as commodity prices slid further.

The oil and gas sector was knocked down 8.65 percent as the price of oil continued its fall to near $64 a barrel. An emergency OPEC meeting resulted in a swift agreement to cut production as a first step towards halting the oil price slide [ID:nLO735433] but had not stemmed the drop.

Shortly after 9:35 a.m. (1335 GMT), Toronto's key S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 610.59 points, or 6.54 percent, at 8,720.76, with all of the index's main 10 groups all sharply lower.

"This is just complete panic. We are off 650 points and New York is off 300, so I think we will probably see 1,000 points on the downside. Will there be any rally on the close, who knows?" said Sal Masionis, stockbroker at Brant Securities.

"Basically it is still the financial panic and nothing to do with valuations at all."

The materials sector lost 5.6 percent as gold and copper dove on demand fears. [ID:nLO274767], while the financials group was off 5.6 percent.

Major stock markets around the world sank as investors moved to the safety of government debt, the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen. [MKTS/GLOB] Britain's top share index dropped 7 percent at midday in London, while Japan's Nikkei average closed 9.6 percent lower.

U.S. stock indexes were down more than 5 percent just after market open. ($1=$1.27 Canadian) (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng and Scott Anderson; Editing by Peter Galloway)