* TSX falls 0.18 percent to close at 13,440.11
* Seven of 10 groups down, including financials, resources
* Canada toughens mortgage rules, bank stocks pressured (Adds details)
TORONTO, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index slipped on Monday, weighed down by mostly soft resource and financial issues in light trading volume.
Financials were mostly weaker, falling 0.17 percent, as investors assessed news that Ottawa will tighten mortgage rules for the second time in less than a year, partly to curb rising household debt levels.
For Canadian banks, the new rules may add to a slowing of personal loan growth, but analysts said a slowdown had already been expected due to expectations of higher interest rates, more prudent lending practices on the part of banks, and the possibility of tighter mortgage standards. [ID:nN17274705]
“Over half the loans written by the banks are real estate-secured loans. This will shrink the market a little bit and it will also perhaps cause the banks not to be able to lend on the leverage that they were before. It’s going to impact their earnings to some extent,” said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung & Co. Investment Counsel.
By session’s end, the financials had cut losses, with Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) down 0.13 percent at C$59.45, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) down 0.09 percent at C$76.10, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) off 0.25 percent at C$56.69.
Bucking the trend, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) rose 0.15 percent to C$53.97, while mortgage lender Home Capital Group (HCG.TO) gained 1.11 percent to C$53.90.
Overall, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 23.95 points, or 0.18 percent, to close at 13,440.11. Seven of the index’s 10 main sectors declined as thin trading conditions prevailed with U.S. markets closed for the Martin Luther King holiday.
The index was flat for most of the session.
The materials sector finished down 0.24 percent, but its constituents were mixed, with strong golds offset by sinking base metals and fertilizer issues. The energy group was also a weak link, down 0.41 percent.
Key decliners included Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO, down 0.89 percent at C$169.09, while Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) lost 0.91 percent to C$42.26.
Gold-mining issues, however, rose after last week’s selloff that was sparked in part by the price of bullion retreating by more than 4 percent since the start of the year. [GOL/]
Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO), up 0.62 percent at C$46.88, and Goldcorp (G.TO), up 0.75 percent at C$40.47, helped keep the index’s overall decline in check.
Technology stocks were 0.53 percent higher, led by Research In Motion RIM.TO, which advanced 1.17 percent to C$64.93, extending last week’s gains.
($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Rob Wilson)