* TSX closed down 13.86 points, or 0.1 percent, at 12,076.03
* Index weighed by bickering in Europe
* Financials and energy sectors negative to start week
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index dipped lower on Monday, pulled down by shifting signals about the European Central Bank’s plans to tackle the region’s sovereign debt crisis.
Two of the three most influential sectors — financials and energy — were pushed down i n uninspiring trade a fter two weeks of gains on a string of positive North American data.
“All the stuff that’s been hanging around for several months, it seems like years, none of that’s gone away,” said Pa ul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets.
Germany’s central bank repeated its criticism of the ECB’s bond-buying program, while the ECB sought to quash press speculation about the shape of the plan, saying decisions had not yet been taken.
The Toronto exchange ended last week above 12,000 for the first time since early May, but investors didn’t push it any higher to start the new week.
“There’s all this talk of the market at highs, but it sure doesn’t look like it’s engendering much enthusiasm if you look at the volumes today,” he added.
Preliminary Reuters data showed that barely 100 million shares changed hands, well down from average volumes.
The third heavyweight sector, materials, was helped by a 1.2 percent gain from Barrick Gold, which closed as the exchange’s biggest positive influence at C$36.01.
The biggest weight was Royal Bank of Canada, which slipped 0.9 percent to C$53.52 after four straight sessions of strong gains, while Toronto Dominion Bank also dragged, down 0.6 percent at C$80.72.
Fertilizer company Potash Corp also dragged the index down, slipping 1 percent to C$43.2 3.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index unofficially closed down 13.86 points, or 0.1 percent, at 12,076.03.
“The tone has weakened...again because of Europe, which is the traditional spoiler whenever we seem to get a bit of momentum going,” said Andrew Pyle, a portfolio manager at ScotiaMcLeod.
Any signs of weakness in global growth hits the Toronto exchange hard, as it lists an abundance of resource-related companies.
The chief executive of Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction equipment, said the global economic outlook is more uncertain now than at the start of the financial crisis in late 2008.