TSX falls for fifth straight day as financial slide

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell for a fifth straight day on Tuesday, hitting a three-week low as financial and resource stocks retreated ahead of Britain’s vote on whether to leave the European Union.

A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The heavyweight financials group fell 1.0 percent as worries about a potential British exit saw investors push Germany’s 10-year bond yield below zero for the first time.

Opinion polls show growing support for Britain to leave the EU, which investors worry could tip the bloc into recession.

“The market is reacting to that in quite a negative fashion,” said Elvis Picardo, vice president of research at Global Securities.

Recent focus on Canada’s potentially overheated housing market has also been a headwind for financials, Picardo added.

“It raises concerns among investors about the extent of the exposure that the banks have to the mortgage business in Canada,” he said.

Royal Bank of Canada RY.TO fell 1.8 percent to C$77.11 and Toronto-Dominion Bank TD.TO declined 1.2 percent to C$55.86.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 109.65 points, or 0.78 percent, at 13,884.23. The index hit its lowest since May 19 at 13,855.48.

Seven of the index’s 10 main groups ended lower.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost nearly 2 percent as concern about the global growth outlook offset a nearly six-week high for gold.

Spot gold XAU= edged 0.2 percent higher as rising Brexit fears supported safe-haven assets such as gold, while investors expected that the Federal Reserve will delay any U.S. interest rate hike again at its meeting that ends Wednesday. [GOL/]

Energy stocks fell 0.3 percent, pressured by lower oil prices.

Enbridge Inc ENB.TO fell 1.5 percent to C$53.39, while U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled 39 cents lower at $48.49 a barrel. [O/R]

The telecommunications group was one of the few that advanced, rising 0.9 percent. It included a 1 percent advance in the shares of BCE Inc BCE.TO to C$59.12.

Canadian household debt as a percentage of income edged lower in the first quarter but remained high as consumers continued to borrow.

Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish