* TSX down 1.59 points, or 0.01 percent to 13,517.91
* Eight of the index’s 10 main groups lower (Updates with details, comments)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, June 3 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished flat on Friday, as dismal U.S. jobs data and a plunge in shares of Sino-Forest Corp TRE.TO offset gains in financial, energy and gold stocks.
Materials stocks, which include forestry companies, fell 0.85 percent and played the biggest role in leading the market lower due to the 63.83 percent decline in Sino-Forest.
A damning short-seller’s report accused Sino-Forest of theft and fraud even as the Canadian-listed company denied there was a problem. [ID:nN03131872]
“With any Chinese-related companies, investors are taking the view ‘guilty until proven innocent’,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.
“They came out with a statement denying these claims, but investors are still going take a jaundiced view.”
Its shares were the biggest single drag on the index, 3.5 times greater than the next most influential decliner, Research in Motion RIM.TO.
RIM fell 3.37 percent to C$38.15 after a report showed the BlackBerry maker gave up more ground to Apple and Google in the hypercompetitive U.S. smartphone market. [ID:nL3E7H31VV]
Toronto stocks initially fell more than 1 percent early on Friday after a report showed U.S. employers hired far fewer workers than expected in May and the jobless rate climbed to 9.1 percent, stoking worries of continued economic weakness. [ID:nOAT004818]
“The concern there is, does this further underscore a more meaningful slowing in the economy? The impact for the Canadian economy is if there’s a slowing in the U.S. economy — they’re obviously our largest trading partner — do they need less of what we have that we produce?,” said Peter Chandler, a senior vice-president at Canaccord Wealth Management.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished down 1.59 points, or 0.01 percent to 13,517.91, paring nearly all of its 1 percent slump shortly after the open.
Eight of the index’s 10 main groups finished lower.
The index fell more than 2 percent on the week. On Wednesday, the index saw its biggest one-day slide since August.
Financial stocks reversed earlier losses to finish up 0.36 percent. Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO) had the biggest positive influence on the index, rising 1.16 percent to C$81.69, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), another top five mover, was up 0.84 percent at C$58.48.
Energy issues, which swung between positive and negative territory finished the day up 0.51 percent, with Suncor Energy (SU.TO) leading the group higher with a 1.2 percent rise to C$39.60.
Bullion was a bright spot on the resource heavy TSX, as the data and weak U.S. dollar sent prices higher, with investors eyeing the safe-haven precious metal. Gold miners rose 0.11 percent. [GOL/]
($1=$0.98 Canadian) (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)