(Adds comments, details, official closing numbers)
By Wojtek Dabrowski
TORONTO, May 7 (Reuters) - The main index of the Toronto Stock Exchange gave up ground on Wednesday as strong oil prices failed to dissuade investors from trimming their holdings by taking profits.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 42.77 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 14,371.53.
Five of the index’s 10 main subgroups finished higher, including the key energy sector which eked out a gain of 0.18 percent.
Among decliners, financials eased 0.86 percent and the resource-laden materials group dipped 0.42 percent.
Even as oil charges past the $120 per barrel mark, some investors remain cautious about the U.S. economy and are using the current strength of the markets as an opportunity to reduce exposure to equities, said Adrian Mastracci, portfolio manager at KCM Wealth Management Inc in Vancouver.
“For the most part, we’re doing relatively okay, but investors are a bit more fearful and to take a little bit off the table right now is not a bad idea,” he said. “These sort of times would be good times to sell,” he said.
Notable gainers during the session included Goldcorp (G.TO), which added 90 Canadian cents, or 2.5 percent, to finish at C$37.70.
Among energy names, EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) edged up 33 Canadian cents, or 0.4 percent, to C$84.57.
Gavin Graham, chief investment officer at Guardian Group of Funds, said the day’s dip in financials was likely due to Tuesday’s earnings report from insurer Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) which warned it expects the balance of 2008 to be difficult.
Sun Life finished down 55 Canadian cents, or 1.2 percent, at C$46.89.
Graham said was also a little surprised by the overall market decline on Wednesday, given the continued strength in oil prices.
“It may be the fact that people are focusing on the negative effects of that,” he said of high crude. “But it does seem a little bit of a contradiction.” ($1=$1.01 Canadian (Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson)