TSX slips from near 3-year high but golds shine

Tue Mar 1, 2011 5:27pm EST
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index retreated from its highest level in almost three years on Tuesday, pulled lower by economic worries sparked by surging oil prices, even as gold hit a record peak.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the run-up in crude prices was unlikely to derail the U.S. economy, but his comments did little to reassure investors worried that turmoil in the Middle East could affect Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter.

Economically sensitive financials were down 0.7 percent despite solid results from Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO: Quote) and the Bank of Canada keeping interest rates on hold, as expected.

BMO ended 0.3 percent lower at C$61.77 while Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO dropped 1.7 percent to C$79.93.

"It's more a question of the leverage that Canadian financial institutions have to the broader economy, and any hint of weakness would translate into profit-taking in that group," said Elvis Picardo, an analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

The fact that U.S. markets were down sharply also helped to take the steam out of the TSX's stronger start, said Picardo. .N

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 13.65 points, or 0.1 percent, at 14,122.85. Eight of its 10 main groups were lower. Earlier in the day, the TSX rose as high as 14,213.21, its best showing since July 2008.

The energy group drifted 0.2 percent lower, swayed by worries over global growth, despite U.S. crude futures ending above $99 a barrel.   Continued...