March 18, 2013 / 12:12 PM / 5 years ago

TSX falls as Cyprus spooks investors

A sign shows TSX information in Toronto September 15, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index slipped on Monday, weighed down by financial and energy shares, as skittish investors pulled back after Cyprus raced to revise a radical bailout plan that included a divisive tax on bank deposits.

The Cyprus bailout sent shockwaves across asset classes, with Brent crude hitting a three-month low, the euro tumbling and safe-haven bullion gaining. <MKTS/GLOB> <O/R> <GOL/>

In Canada, financials suffered the biggest hits, despite scant evidence domestic lenders were exposed to the Mediterranean island’s banks, and oil and gas companies were hurt by the fall in crude.

“It’s all Cyprus,” said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod. “This will be, I hope, relatively short-lived but nevertheless it frightens everybody.”

The euro zone agreed over the weekend to give Cyprus a bailout worth 10 billion euros ($13 billion), but demanded depositors in its banks forfeit some money to stave off bankruptcy despite the risks of a wider bank run.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the session down 48.27 points, or 0.38 percent, at 12,781.76.

Still, in the longer term, many analysts think a rally that took the index to a 19-month high will resume, given the limited returns offered elsewhere.

“There is a huge amount of money on the sidelines, tied up in fixed income and comparatively unproductive markets. It’s got to go somewhere,” said Rick Hutcheon, chief operating officer at RKH Investments, who suggests energy stocks could gain as signs grow of a U.S. economic recovery.

“If the U.S. actually begins to crank up again, they’re going to be using energy,” he said.

But for the day, energy stocks weighed heavily, with Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) down 1.9 percent to C$31.08 and Encana Corp (ECA.TO) off 1.5 percent at C$20.41.

Banks were among the biggest decliners, with Bank of Nova Scotia off 0.8 percent to C$59.84 and Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO) down 0.6 percent at C$84.53.

“I certainly don’t think Canadian banks are all of a sudden going to find themselves in the same spot,” Ketchen said. “However, it’s more a reaction to the overall influence that Cyprus is having on the psychology of the market.”

Gold hit a two-week high as its safe-haven properties proved alluring, helping Canada’s long-suffering gold miners offset some of the broader losses.

Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) rose 1.3 percent to C$29.59 and Yamana Gold Inc (YRI.TO) gained 1.4 percent to C$15.06.

Editing by Dan Grebler

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