* TSX ends down 1.29 percent at 11,875.13
* Energy sector sags 3.05 pct as oil below $80 a barrel
* Materials pushed down by weak gold, base metal prices (Adds details)
By John McCrank
TORONTO, May 5 (Reuters) - Toronto’s resource-heavy main stock index tumbled on Wednesday for a third straight session, dragged lower by a slide in oil, as fears intensified that Greece’s debt crisis could spread to other euro zone countries and derail economic recovery.
The drop was led by the heavyweight energy sector, down 3.05 percent, as the unfolding Greek crisis pushed the price of oil below $80 a barrel for the first time since late March. [O/R]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 155.73 points, or 1.29 percent, at 11,875.13. Earlier, it touched a low of 11,754.28, its weakest level in nine weeks. Eight of its 10 sectors were down.
Protesters in Athens clashed with police over austerity measures, while policy makers warned of the dangers of contagion in other high-debt euro zone nations, sending global stocks and commodity markets lower. [ID:nSGE644093] [MKTS/GLOB]
“The market’s concern is: are these sovereign debt concerns going to slow down or derail the economic recovery, initially in Europe, but overall, globally, and as a result commodities are pulling back,” said Anil Tahiliani, head of research at McLean & Partners Wealth Management in Calgary.
The price of gold rebounded from one-week lows on a return to safe-haven buying, helping to reduce the losses in the TSX materials group, which finished down 0.27 percent.
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) rose 0.52 percent to C$44.13, while base metals producer Teck Resources TCKb.TO gained 0.51 percent to C$37.44. But fertilizer producer Potash Corp POT.TO fell 1.7 percent to C$105.01.
HudBay Minerals (HBM.TO) dropped 4.82 percent to C$11.45 after it reported a weaker than expected first-quarter profit late on Tuesday. [ID:nN04162235] [ID:nN05224578]
Agrium AGU.TO shares cut losses to finish 0.71 percent lower at C$61.36 after the fertilizer maker reported a quarterly loss. [ID:nN04118549]
Another weak spot was the hefty financials group, which shed 1.26 percent. Francis Campeau, broker at MF Global Canada in Montreal, said Canadian banks were hit heavily by fears that another credit crunch could be spawned by the European debt crisis.
“If Europe falls, some European banks may fall, some U.S. banks, and perhaps we will see another credit crisis ... The perception of investors right now is to take their chips off the table and reduce risk until they get a better idea of what’s going on,” he said.
The telecoms group rose 0.3 percent, off its session high, helped by a better-than-expected quarterly profit and a surprise dividend rise at Telus (T.TO), one of Canada’s big three telecoms companies. Telus gained 2.88 percent to $38.61.
$1=$1.03 Canadian Reporting by John McCrank and Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway