March 1, 2018 / 4:17 PM / 7 months ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 2-week low as commodity prices fall

(Adds details on stocks and sectors throughout, updates prices)

TORONTO, March 1 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index hit a two-week low on Thursday as commodity prices fell, but the index pared its earlier losses as investors weighed testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

* Powell told Congress that there was no evidence that the U.S. economy is currently overheating. Investors have worried that the U.S. central bank will accelerate the pace of its interest rate increases this year.

* Investors also weighed the potential introduction of U.S. trade protection measures after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S. steel and aluminum industries need “free, fair and smart trade.”

* At 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index fell 32.83 points, or 0.21 percent, to 15,409.85. The index touched its lowest intraday since Feb. 15 at 15,356.07.

* The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost nearly 1 percent.

* Barrick Gold Corp fell 2.4 percent to C$ 14.42 and First Quantum Minerals Ltd declined 3.1 percent to C$20.26.

* Gold futures fell 0.6 percent to $1,307.5 an ounce, pressured by a stronger U.S. dollar. U.S. crude prices were down 1.6 percent at $60.66 a barrel.

* Still, the energy group rose 0.2 percent, helped by a 1.8 percent gain for the shares of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd to C$40.45 after the company reported Q4 profit that beat estimates.

* Toronto-Dominion Bank also rallied after reporting quarterly earnings that beat market expectations. Its shares rose 1.4 percent to C$75.00.

* The index was posting three new 52-week highs and 15 new lows, while seven of its 10 main groups fell. (Reporting by Fergal Smith Editing by Tom Brown)

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