(Corrects first bullet point in afternoon report to 96.41 points from 96.41 percent)
*TSX down 96.41 points to 12,286.41
*Gold stocks lead decline (Updates to afternoon)
TORONTO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index was sharply lower at midday on Thursday after hitting its highest level in two years the day before, led down by weighty gold and other commodity-linked shares.
Gold miners, down 2.5 percent, drove the decline. Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO), the world's No. 1 producer, tumbled almost 3 percent to C$47.13 as the safe-haven precious metal backed off record highs following positive U.S. economic data. [GOL/]
Barrick was also seen affected by the Argentine Senate's passage of a law that would curb mining on the nation's glaciers. Analysts say the law could make it more expensive or even impossible for Barrick to develop its huge Pascua Lama site high in the Andes. [ID: nN30287719]
"The gold stocks are very much lagging," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager, at Caldwell Securities.
"I think we really need to get the commodity up above $1,300 by a reasonable amount of $15 or more and then I think all the gold stocks will finally become something that people will want to own."
At 12:33 p.m. (1633 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 96.41 points, or 0.78 percent, at 12,286.41, with all of its 10 main sectors lower. The energy group was down 0.1 percent and financials were off 0.4 percent.
Kinsey noted that "the market may be a little ahead of itself" after Wednesday's rally.
Profit-taking and "window dressing", the quarter-end repositioning of portfolios by money managers and big institutional investors, were also seen as weighing on the index.
($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway)