TSX extends 2011 losses as oil, gold drag

Thu Jan 6, 2011 5:45pm EST
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed sharply lower on Thursday as a slide in oil and gold prices and disappointing U.S. economic data weighed on heavyweight energy, mining and financial shares.

Among oil companies, Suncor Energy fell 2.88 percent to C$37.14, and Canadian Natural Resources, which said output at its Horizon oil sands project fell 22 percent in December, slid 3.03 percent to C$42.95.

Imperial Oil was another big decliner, down 2.64 percent at C$39.76. The energy group led the index's retreat, falling 1.73 percent.

Oil prices dropped more than 2 percent to below $89 a barrel as a stronger dollar and December U.S. retail sales data that missed Wall Street estimates deterred cautious investors, who were waiting to see if recent positive economic reports would translate into greater consumer demand.

Royal Bank of Canada was off 0.92 percent at C$51.61. Mining giant Barrick Gold extended its slump, sliding 1.54 percent to C$49.07. Goldcorp also fell, dropping 2.28 percent to C$42.94.

The index's materials group, home to mining stocks, was down 1.16 percent. Financial issues, often influenced by economic factors, slipped 0.28 percent.

Safe-haven bullion retreated for a fourth straight day as the U.S. dollar strengthened and expectations grew that Friday's U.S. employment data will beat forecasts.

"Certainly the economic indicators have been good, so it's almost like good news is bad news, especially for gold," said Laura Lau, senior portfolio manager at Sentry Select Capital Corp.   Continued...

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