August 8, 2008 / 7:06 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks kept lower by commodities

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* TSX briefly turns positive, then slides

* Energy and materials issues sag on commodities

* Financials, consumer discretionary stocks buoy

TORONTO, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index briefly tipped into positive territory on Friday afternoon, but quickly slipped back into the red, held down by weakness in energy and material issues.

The benchmark index, which dropped 100 points early in the session, bounced back as lower oil prices lifted consumer and industrial shares, and banks rose.

“Even though the economic news — the jobs report — wasn’t good this morning, what people are seeing is the lower oil prices tend to be good news for all the other sectors,” said Kate Warne, Canadian market strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis, Missouri.

Figures released on Friday showed the economy shed 55,000 jobs in July, far below expectations for a gain of 5,000 and was the biggest job loss since February 1991.

But the move into positive territory was short-lived, as a 3.3 percent drop in energy and a 3.4 percent fall in materials pulled the benchmark index lower.

By mid-afternoon, the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 40.59 points, or 0.3 percent, at 13,344.58, with just three of its 10 main groups lower.

Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) slipped C$5.66, or 6.8 percent, to C$77.99, while Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO fell C$7.49, or 4 percent, to C$181.50.

The market’s fall was softened by the key financial sector, which rose 2.3 percent and consumer discretionary stocks, up 3.2 percent.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) rose 92 Canadian cents, or 2 percent, to C$47.56, while Gildan Activewear (GIL.TO) jumped C$2.24, or 8.5 percent, to C$28.56.

In company news, shares of Telus Corp (T.TO) rose 5 percent to C$40.90 after the No. 2 phone company reported an increase in quarterly profit, helped by wireless revenue and new mobile phone and Internet subscribers. The telecom sector was up 2 percent. ($1=$1.07 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson)

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