TSX ends lower for 3rd day as materials fall

Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:22pm EST
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By Ka Yan Ng

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index finished lower for a third straight day on Friday, accelerating its decline toward the close due to a late-day selloff in the materials group.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index, which was largely flat for much of the afternoon, finished down 72.75 points, or 0.55 percent, at 13,258.57.

Seven of the index's 10 main groups ended lower, pressured by a sharp 1.7 percent drop in materials, a lot of the fall taking place in the final minutes of the session.

"(It was) a tug-of-war between energy stocks and material stocks today," said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

The weakness in materials was broad with both base- and precious-metals miners falling. The price of bullion notched its third week of losses, while copper stabilized after falling to a one-month low.

Diversified miner Teck Resources shed 2.67 percent to C$58.66, while Barrick Gold lost 1.03 percent to C$46.33.

The overall decline was cushioned by a rally in the oil and gas sector, which rose 1.08 percent.

Strength in the price of natural gas drove energy issues higher, rather than U.S. crude oil, which was softer on rising supply. Warne noted that cold weather and higher heating demand were helping to push up gas prices.   Continued...

<p>A Bay Street sign is seen at the financial district in Toronto, October 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>