CANADA STOCKS-TSX hurt by Potash outlook, uncertainty

Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:27pm EST
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* TSX ends down 0.62 percent at 11,274.20

* Potash Corp tumbles 8 percent before coming back a bit

* Ben Bernanke confirmed as U.S. Fed chair (Adds details)

TORONTO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index ended lower on Thursday, weighed down by disappointing results and forecasts issued by market heavyweight Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote).

Potash, the world's largest fertilizer producer, led the index's decline all session, ending down 4.55 percent at C$111.26 after it reported earnings and a profit outlook well below market expectations. [ID:nN28196679]

Potash shares had been down by as much as 8 percent earlier in the day, triggering a selloff in other fertilizer stocks despite the company's optimism that fertilizer demand will improve this year.

"It's obviously a bit of a down-drag," said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities. "A stock that carries that much weight on the Toronto Stock Exchange index is going to have an impact."

But it wasn't all bad news for producers of potash, a key crop nutrient. Athabasca Potash API.TO, up 23.88 percent at C$8.30, was one of the highest percentage gainers after global mining giant BHP Billiton (BHP.AX: Quote)(BLT.L: Quote) agreed to buy it for C$341 million in cash, expanding BHP's asset base in the potash-rich province of Saskatchewan. [ID:nLDE60R1SH]

Also dragging the index down was Canada's largest oil and gas company, Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote), off 1.04 percent at C$34.35 as the price of oil was fairly flat near $74 a barrel.   Continued...