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TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index fell on Thursday as retreating oil and gold prices sent shares of heavyweight energy and mining companies lower.
EnCana Corp was down 2.4 percent at C$59.25 and Barrick Gold sank 1.8 percent to C$44.25. Canadian Natural Resources fell 1.8 percent to C$69.47.
The broader energy and materials sectors dropped 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent respectively, as U.S. oil prices fell to below $77 a barrel, while gold edged off the record high it hit early on Thursday as the U.S. dollar recovered from recent lows.
"It's right across the board. The Canadian dollar is a little weaker on the back of the commodity market being a bit weaker, which is on the back of the U.S. dollar being stronger," said Bruce Latimer, a trader at Dundee Securities.
Investor sentiment was also slightly bruised by a guarded earnings outlook for the crucial Christmas quarter from retail giant Wal-Mart, casting doubt about the strength of consumer spending in the economic recovery.
"It certainly is a bit of a negative edge over the market," said Latimer. But he added he's seeing "some good volumes in some names," which could mean people are buying on dips.
Jennifer Radman, vice-president at Caldwell Investment Management Ltd, said the market has been a bit ahead of itself.
"People are expecting the economy to get better so any sort of warning from companies would move the market," she said.
The S&P/TSX composite index finished down 78.99 points, or 0.69 percent, at 11,360.76, with six of its 10 main groups lower.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index closed 3.92 points lower, or 0.58 percent, at 675.53.
Some of Canada's biggest banks were among the most influential gainers, rising on hopes for the economy and as domestic data showed new home prices rose in September at their fastest rate in 20 months.
As well, data showed U.S. new jobless claims for the week fell to their lowest level since January, pointing to improvements in the U.S. employment market.
Toronto-Dominion Bank was up 1.1 percent at C$66.62 and Bank of Nova Scotia rose 0.9 percent to C$48.24.
Corporate results were also in focus as some of the country's biggest companies in the energy and telecom sectors posted quarterly earnings.
EnCana topped the most influential mover on the downside as Canada's largest natural gas producer reported a big drop in profit.
BCE Inc rose 0.2 percent to C$27.14 after posting a jump in quarterly profit that topped analyst expectations as subscribers flocked to new mobile phones and services, despite the weak economy.
Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson