UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks retreat as financials weigh

Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:20pm EST
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(Updates numbers, adds detail, quotes)

TORONTO Jan 25 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index reversed direction on Friday and turned lower, taking back strong early gains in a sell-off sparked by falling financials shares.

Market rumors of possible profit warnings from Europe's ING ING.AS and Fortis FOR.BR shook financials, but Fortis said it was unaware of any reason for the drop in its stock.

In Toronto, the banking sector was down 1.1 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO dropped after Commerce Bancorp Inc CBH.N, which is being bought by TD, said its fourth-quarter profit fell, while credit losses quintupled. TD was off C$1.21 Canadian cents, or 1.8 percent, at C$66.09.

Also in the sector, Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO slipped 68 Canadian cents, or 1.4 percent, to C$49.30.

"If you look at the financial sector in general - whether it's Commerce or bond insurers or subprime lenders - there's very little good news on that front," said Levente Mady, broker at MF Global Canada, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"Canadian banks are relatively problem-free, even in the global picture. But on the other hand, the stock prices of the big six banks have certainly pulled back considerably, and that's a sign of the times."

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 49.08 points, or 0.38 percent, at 12,858.19 with eight of its 10 main groups in negative territory. In a volatile session, the index had jumped more than 200 points just after the open.

The heavyweight energy sector also reversed course, falling 0.3 percent, while Husky Energy HSE.TO was down C$1.39, or 3.4 percent, at C$39.76, and Petro-Canada PCA.TO lost 79 Canadian cents, or 1.7 percent, to C$46.18.   Continued...