CANADA STOCKS-TSX lower as weak financials offset gold strength
* TSX down 53.80 points, or 0.35 percent, at 15,158.95
* Nine of 10 main index sectors advance
By Andrea Hopkins
TORONTO, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index slipped on Friday as grim domestic economic news and prospects for another interest rate cut weighed on financials, offsetting strength in gold stocks and a surge in drugmaker Valeant as it closes in on a deal to buy Salix.
Retail sales fell by the most in four years in December, data showed, with subdued holiday shopping and cheaper oil accounting for the surprise 2 percent drop.
Bets that the Bank of Canada will cut rates at its March 4 meeting have increased as signs of economic weakness multiply.
The heavyweight financial sector fell 1.2 percent, with Royal Bank of Canada down 1.7 percent to C$75.92 and Toronto-Dominion Bank shedding 1.3 percent to C$53.75.
Elsewhere, investors remained focused on a possible agreement between international lenders on Greece's proposal for extending its loan agreement.
"The backdrop is the Greek exit - the Grexit - that's going to dominate news over the next few days until this game of chicken resolves itself," said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada. Continued...