* TSX down 17.88 points, or 0.16 pct, at 11,390.46
* Miners drag on index as base metal prices slide
* Potash Corp up 3.9 percent, helps cushion fall (Adds details, quotes)
By Jennifer kwan
TORONTO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended slightly lower on Wednesday as investors grew cautious after two straight sessions of gains and a stronger greenback pressured commodity prices, weighing on miners.
First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) topped the list of influential movers on the downside, dropping 8 percent to C$75.05, while Teck Resources TCKb.TO fell 2.2 percent to C$36.86, as the price of base metals pulled back.
Copper prices tumbled to 2-1/2-month lows as gains by the U.S. dollar and concerns over Chinese monetary tightening and European credit problems reflected an uncertain outlook for the global economic recovery. [FRX/] [MET/L] Gold prices were also weaker. [GOL/]
After two days of gains in which the TSX composite added 2.8 percent, it was not surprising to see a pullback, said Rick Meslin, head of Canadian equities at UBS.
“It’s really kind of like a bit of a battle with people taking risk off and balanced by people who are looking for opportunities,” he said.
“People are just trying to be careful, buy the market, buy the dips tactically. At the same time, no one wants to make a big, big bet on direction with any kind of certainty because we really don’t have it.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the day down 17.88 points, or 0.16 percent, at 11,390.46.
The financial sector ended the day off 0.41 percent, mimicking moves in the U.S. where banking issues came under pressure as uncertainty resurfaced over the U.S. administration’s intent to limit risky trading activities at big banks. [.N].
The heavily weighted energy group ticked up 0.21 percent even as the price of oil slipped below $77 a barrel. [O/R]
“It’s a stock pickers market,” said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds, noting there were no real significant trends pushing the market one way or another across the board.
On the upside, heavyweight Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc (POT.TO) added 3.9 percent to C$114.77. Shares of Potash and its North American peers benefited after Russian potash exporter BPC raised spot prices of the crop nutrient by more than 6 percent. [ID:nLDE6120XC]
Another big name cushioning the index’s broader fall was Research In Motion RIM.TO, which climbed 3.5 percent to C$72.00.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 0.21 points lower, or 0.03 percent, at 665.78.
$1=$1.06 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson