Financials and U.S. worries sting Toronto stocks

Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:22pm EST
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By Leah Schnurr

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index retreated on Thursday, dragged down by a selloff in financial and materials issues, amid persistent uneasiness about the outlook for the U.S. economy.

Sun Life Financial Inc SLF.TO was one of the biggest weights on the TSX, after its fourth-quarter profit missed the Street's expectations. Canada's third-largest life insurer, fell C$1.79, or 3.6 percent, to C$47.37, while the financial sector gave up 1.2 percent on credit market worries.

Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO slid 96 Canadian cents, or 1.4 percent, to C$65.54 and Bank of Montreal BMO.TO fell 67 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, to C$54.50.

The materials sector sagged 0.9 percent, while shares of Lundin Mining Corp LUN.TO dove after the company gave revenue and production forecasts that it said were lower than analysts had been expecting. The base metal miner was down 96 Canadian cents, or 11 percent, at C$7.75.

North American markets reacted negatively to comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who kept the door open to more interest rate cuts, but said the outlook for the U.S. economy had worsened in recent months and that risks to growth had increased.

However, Bernanke said he expects an uptick in growth in the second half of the year.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 74.27 points, or 0.56 percent, at 13,208.03 with seven of its 10 main groups lower. It had closed up nearly 200 points on Wednesday, and is up 1.7 percent so far for the week.

"I think today is a bit of a consolidation of yesterday's gains. Having said that, I think the reaction today is a direct response to Bernanke's comments in the States," said Rick Hutcheon, president and chief operating officer at RKH Investments.   Continued...

<p>A man walks past a sign showing the results of the Toronto Stock Exchange in Toronto August 16, 2007. REUTERS/Peter Jones</p>