Toronto stocks set to ease after Monday's run-up

Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:04am EST
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TORONTO Feb 26 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index was set to ease on Tuesday amid weaker commodity prices and as investors lock in profits from a late rally on Monday.

Investors will eye Canada's federal budget, to be released later in the day, for any mention of the capital gains tax or relief for central Canada's beleaguered auto industry.

Energy and materials issues have led a recent charge on the TSX, but soft crude oil, spot gold and base metals prices may trip up those sectors on Tuesday.

"The market has had a pretty decent tone the last few days and weeks -- and it's done that without any leadership from the financials, which we haven't seen happen too many times," said Bruce Latimer, trader at Dundee Securities.

"You've got a lot of people looking for a decent year in commodities stocks ... but we might have a little pull-back at the opening today."

In the TSX consumer staples sector, Cott Corp BCB.TO, the soft-drink maker, confirmed reports that retail giant Wal-Mart WMT.N gave notice it would reduce the shelf space devoted to the company's Sam's Choice soft drinks -- a move Cott said was "significant" to its business. For details, see: [nN26313169]

Elsewhere, Agrium Inc AGU.TO extended the deadline on its tender offer for UAP Holding Corp UAPH.O to allow more time for U.S. antitrust regulators to assess the deal. For details, see: [nN25270431]

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE starts the day at 13,697.45 after adding 111.52 points, or 0.8 percent, in the previous session. It has advanced in nine of the last 12 trading days.

($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Bernadette Baum)