TSX tumbles on weaker oil, Agrium outlook

Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:21pm EDT
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX fell more than 1 percent in a broad slump on Friday, dragged lower by softer oil prices and a weak outlook from fertilizer producer Agrium Inc.

Every one of the 10 main groups of the benchmark paced lower, including the heavyweight energy and financials groups, which lost 2.01 percent and 1.23 percent, respectively.

The resources-laden materials group gave up 0.94 percent.

The weak trading session came after Agrium said it expects quarterly earnings to be 90 percent to 95 percent below those of the year-earlier period. The shares dropped 7.1 percent.

"Obviously, it's a big blow," said Gavin Graham, director of investments at BMO Asset Management. However, he added that after a weak profit report from rival Potash Corp of Saskatchewan on Thursday "it shouldn't have been a major surprise".

Agrium was the second-biggest net loser, shedding C$4.21 to finish at C$55.52. Potash fell 2 percent to C$105.95.

Meanwhile, oil fell toward $80 a barrel as a stronger U.S. dollar and doubts over the pace of economic recovery choked crude's recent rally.

Canadian energy giant EnCana Corp dropped 2.73 percent to C$63.10. Suncor Energy gave up 2.12 percent to finish at C$38.37.   Continued...

<p>People attend a market open ceremony for the Toronto Stock Exchange at the TSX Broadcast Centre in Toronto June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>