June 18, 2008 / 3:09 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks slide as profit-taking sets in

(Updates to midmorning)

* TSX falls as investors lock in profits

* Fertilizer stocks taken lower after recent gains

TORONTO, June 18 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index slid on Wednesday, as profit-taking set in after recent strong gains, while energy shares edged higher even though the price of oil slid.

Fertilizer firms Agrium AGU.TO and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO were stung as investors booked profits following recent interest in the wake of flooding in the U.S. Midwest, which has raised concerns of crop losses and pushed the price of corn to record highs.

Agrium eased 99 Canadian cents, or 0.9 percent, to C$112.01, but heavy-hitter Potash Corp was the biggest net loser, down C$3.22, or 1.3 percent, at C$240.81.

Keith Summers, chief investment officer at Stonegate Private Counsel, noted that some profit-taking was inevitable after the benchmark climbed to a record close on Tuesday.

“But it underlies the fact that the momentum for the Toronto market continues to be positive,” Summers added.

After wavering around the break-even mark early on, the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE gave up 52.25 points, or 0.35 percent, at 15,016.58 at midmorning with eight of its 10 main sectors lower.

The heavyweight oil and gas group remained on the upside, gaining 0.2 percent while the price of oil retreated after data showed crude oil and gasoline stocks fell.

Among the biggest gainers, Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was up C$1.53, or 1.4 percent, at C$108.45, and Suncor Energy (SU.TO) added 51 Canadian cents, or 0.8 percent, to C$66.06.

The financial sector stumbled as it was caught up in nagging worries over more fallout to come as a result of the credit crunch and problems in the U.S. housing market.

“We’re sort of in an environment now where we’re realizing the banks are going to have to work a little bit harder, but (the problems) are going to still be with us a year from now,” said Summers.

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was off 78 Canadian cents, or 1.1 percent, at C$68.03, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) edged down 36 Canadian cents, or 0.6 percent, to C$63.75. The sector was down 1 percent. ($1=$1.02 Canadian) (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson)

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