April 11, 2008 / 7:24 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 3-Toronto stocks tumble on economic jitters

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TORONTO, April 11 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index dropped more than 200 points on Friday, on fears of a weak earnings season and worries over the broader economy.

U.S. blue chip General Electric (GE.N) set the tone early in the day posting disappointing earnings that rattled markets across North America.

Soft commodity prices undercut the energy and materials sectors adding to the downward pressure on the TSX.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was down C$3.25, or 3 percent, at C$106.59, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) shed C$1.06, or 1.3 percent, at C$78.76. Soft oil prices helped the energy sector lose 1.4 percent.

The materials sector, home to resource shares, took its cue from weak gold prices. Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) fell 96 Canadian cents, or 1.3 percent, to C$70.81 while Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) was down C$1.17, or 2.6 percent, at C$43.83. The sector slid 1.6 percent.

John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada, said that although GE’s first-quarter profit fell 6 percent, the fact that profit at it financial services arms fell about 20 percent sharply increased concerns about the credit crisis.

“GE’s problems are on the financials side, (which) drew attention to how widespread the contagion (is), and that dented enthusiasm,” said Ing.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 210.60 points, or 1.51 percent, at 13,698.98 by Friday afternoon, with all but one of its 10 main sectors falling.

The consumer discretionary group, the lone sector in positive territory, pushed up 0.5 percent.

The financial sector dropped 1.6 percent, with Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) down C$1.19, or 2.6 percent, at C$45.54, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) off 79 Canadian cents, or 1.7 percent, at C$46.49.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM.TO was among the biggest drags on Bay Street, falling C$4.79, or 3.9 percent, to C$118.58.

On the upside, shares of Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO) gained 90 Canadian cents, or 4.5 percent, to C$21.11 after the No. 2 cable and satellite TV company said its second-quarter profit more than tripled amid a tax recovery, solid subscriber gains and higher prices.

A recent improvement in overall sentiment had helped the TSX index rally in recent weeks, as investors hoped the worst of the problems in the financial sector had passed.

$1=$1.02 Canadian Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson

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