Toronto stocks set to ease on last day of year

Mon Dec 31, 2007 9:05am EST
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TORONTO Dec 31 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index was set for a quiet day to finish the year on Monday, as easing commodity prices could spur profit-taking.

Rising gold prices led a resource-based rally in the previous session, but spot bullion dipped by nearly $2 an ounce early on Monday morning.

Base metals were flat while natural gas -- a key indicator for the TSX -- eased.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE starts the day at 13,821.34, up about 7 percent so far in 2007. Canada's benchmark stock index rose by 14.5 percent in 2006, and by more than 22 percent in 2005.

"It's certainly a trend downward ... and on balance, the consensus is for a slow first half (of 2008) and a pick-up in the second half," said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities Ltd in Toronto.

He suggested thin trading on Monday could see mutual funds doing some "window dressing," where recently weak stocks are sold and recently strong stocks are bought to close out the year.

"I don't know that today will tell us much of anything," Kinsey said.

A U.S. report on November home sales, due at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) could give the Canadian market direction. U.S. stock futures pointed to a firm open.

The TSX jumped 145.77 points, or 1.1 percent, in the previous session. (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Ka Yan Ng)