October 10, 2008 / 8:43 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 4-Toronto stocks drop as panic hits, commodities dive

*Toronto stocks fall almost 6 percent

*Value loss for S&P/TSX composite since Aug. 31: C$440 bln

*Commodities fall, driving oil and gold shares lower

By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The main index of the Toronto Stock Exchange tumbled almost 6 percent on Friday as the latest wave of panic swept through global equity markets, wiping billions of dollars more from investor portfolios and pushing commodity prices sharply lower.

The size of the rout seen in recent weeks continues to balloon: the benchmark S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE has lost roughly C$440 billion in market value since the end of August.

Every sector of the index moved lower on Friday with the market especially spooked by a drop in the price of oil and gold. U.S. crude fell more than 10 percent on recession fears, while gold fell about 3 percent.

“Within the Canadian equity market, there’s no hiding anywhere, period,” said Paul Taylor, chief investment officer at BMO Harris Investment Management Inc. “It’s very hard to avoid this train wreck.”

The energy and materials subgroups lost 8.43 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively. Financials shed 3.33 percent.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 534.98 points, or 5.57 percent, to close at 9,065.20.

Sal Masionis, a broker at Brant Securities, said panic and a lack of confidence have paralyzed the markets.

“The average investor, he’s like a deer in the headlights — he can’t figure out what to do,” he said. “Nobody knows.”

Net loss leaders included zinc giant Teck Cominco TCKb.TO, which fell 14.4 percent to close at C$16.36. Energy group Nexen NXY.TO lost 13.6 percent to finish at C$14.01.

$1=$1.17 Canadian Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway

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