(New throughout, updates prices and market activity, adds comments from portfolio manager, details on health care and financial stocks)
* TSX closed down 117.96 points, or 0.91 percent, at 12,813.40
* Eight of the TSX’s 10 main groups fall
By Fergal Smith
TORONTO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell on Friday, led by a drop in health care, energy and financial sector stocks, as crude oil prices tumbled and domestic retail sales disappointed.
The health care group fell 3.7 percent. It included a 9.6 percent slide in the shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc to C$117.00.
The energy group retreated 1.7 percent while the heavyweight financials group fell 0.5 percent, as domestic data showed signs of slowing consumer demand and growing inflationary pressures.
Signs of weaker economic growth has joined uncertainty related to energy loan books and an “overheated housing market,” adding to investor concerns about bank stocks, according to Diana Avigdor, head of trading at Barometer Capital Management.
Banks begin to report quarterly earnings next week.
The concern is that each time they don’t show deterioration in performance they are “pushing out the inevitable,” said Avigdor.
Oil prices fell as record high U.S. crude stockpiles intensified worries that a plan to freeze world output will do little or nothing to reduce massive supplies already in the market.
U.S. crude prices settled at $29.64 a barrel, down 3.67 percent.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 117.96 points, or 0.91 percent, at 12,813.40. Eight of the index’s 10 main groups ended lower.
Still, the index posted a 3.5 percent gain on the holiday-shortened week.
The market needs the long-term investor to get engaged in order to take it to the next level, said Avigdor.
The most influential movers on the index also included Canadian Natural Resources, which fell 3.5 percent to C$28.09, and Manulife Financial Corp which lost 2.5 percent to C$17.55.
Pipeline company Enbridge Inc fell 2.1 percent to C$43.14, despite reporting higher-than-expected profit.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, fell 1.7 percent. It included a 6.6 percent drop in the shares of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc to C$22.06.
Retail sales slumped in December as unseasonably warm weather in many parts of the country cut into seasonal purchases.
The annual inflation rate picked up to 2 percent in January, the highest since November 2014, lifted by food prices and a rise in gasoline costs.
Consumer discretionary stocks fell 0.7 percent, but staples rose 0.2 percent. (Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp Editing by W Simon)