TSX extends slide as oils, golds retreat

Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:26pm EST
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index closed lower for a fourth straight session on Thursday as energy and gold-mining issues retreated after rising for several days in reaction to the upheavals in North Africa.

The energy group, which had advanced more than 8 percent with gains in eight of the previous nine sessions, fell 1.88 percent. Suncor Energy slumped 4.51 percent to C$44.00, while Canadian Natural Resources shed 2.2 percent to C$47.06.

Oil prices skidded after rallying to 2-1/2-year highs, with traders citing a rumor that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had been shot as one reason for the late selloff.

"The energy (sector) really seems to be taking a hit here, but it has had a very good gain," said John Kinsey, a portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities Ltd.

Violence in Libya, and worries the crisis could spread to other oil-producing countries in the Middle East, had sent crude prices soaring over the last several sessions.

Gold miners were also in heavy retreat and helped drag the overall materials group 2.2 percent lower.

Barrick Gold sank 3.03 percent to C$50.23, while Agnico Eagle sagged 4.19 percent to C$67.70. Goldcorp, which reported a surging profit and raised its dividend payout after markets closed, was off 2.61 percent at C$44.45.

Bullion prices erased earlier gains as worries eased somewhat over soaring oil prices and escalating turmoil in Libya.   Continued...