Financials drag Toronto stocks lower

Thu Dec 27, 2007 4:59pm EST
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - The benchmark index of the Toronto Stock Exchange finished lower on Thursday as stronger oil and gold prices in wake of the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto failed to offset sagging financial shares.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 19.27 points, or 0.14 percent, to close at 13,675.57.

While oil and gold both moved higher because of the geopolitical instability resulting from Bhutto's death, persistent worries about the credit crisis and the U.S. economy continued to drag on financials.

"Financials are being given a bit of a haircut," said Adrian Mastracci, portfolio manager at KCM Wealth Management in Vancouver. "I don't think we're done here, either."

Of the 10 main groups of the Toronto index, four finished higher. Two of those were the heavyweight energy and materials groups, which added 0.32 percent and 1.35 percent, respectively.

However, financials make up the third key pillar of the Toronto market, and they paced 1.01 percent lower.

Toronto-Dominion Bank shed C$1.19, or 1.7 percent, to C$68.72. Bank of Montreal gave up 44 Canadian cents to C$55.86. Manulife Financial Corp fell 69 Canadian cents to C$39.81.

U.S. February crude rose 65 cents to settle at $96.62 on news of Bhutto's death, as well as on falling U.S. crude stocks. Gold rose $2.20 to $826.80 an ounce after hitting a one-month high of $830.05 earlier in the session.   Continued...

<p>A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>