* TSX down 67.96 points, or 0.53 percent, at 12,700.74
* Growth concerns, weaker commodity prices weigh
* TD Bank climbs 1.5 percent on strong results (Updates with further details)
By Trish Nixon
TORONTO, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks fell on Thursday, ending a four-day rally, as global growth concerns and weaker commodity prices offset stronger gold shares and a bounce in Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) on strong results.
Global stock markets were pressured as slowing factory output around the world renewed worries that the global economy is on the brink of recession, though slightly better-than-expected U.S. manufacturing data initially helped boost shares. [MKTS/GLOB]
“We’ve had such an up and down month of August I don’t think anybody knows what to make of what’s going to happen this month,” said Barry Schwartz, a portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
Investors turned cautious as they awaited U.S. non-farm payrolls data on Friday. A decline in the employment component of the Institute for Supply Management’s factory activity index heightened worries that August jobs growth will be weaker than feared. [.N]
“Employment is a much bigger number,” said John Kurgan, senior market strategist at MF Global Canada. “People are looking for any kind of sign, they’ll pick this thing apart on Friday.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 67.96 points, or 0.53 percent, at 12,700.74. Light volume contributed to early swings with many traders away ahead of the Labour Day holiday weekend.
Nine of the ten main sectors were lower with energy issues — down 1 percent — weighing most heavily after Brent crude dipped on concerns about economic growth. [O/R]
Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was a top decliner, falling 2 percent to C$36.26, while Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was off 0.9 percent at C$31.
Financial stocks were the second biggest weight on the index, with some of Canada’s big banks and insurers among the heaviest drags.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) fell 2.04 percent to C$49.10, while Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) lost 1.1 percent to C$60.71.
But Toronto Dominion Bank (TD.TO) broke with the trend and was the most influential gainer, helping minimize losses in the overall sector.
TD Bank climbed 1.5 percent to C$78.60 after reporting its profit rose 23 percent due to stronger loan volumes at its Canadian and U.S. retail units. TD also raised its dividend, and briefly surpassed Royal Bank as the largest Canadian company by market capitalization. [ID:nN1E77U1CO]
The strong result and dividend increase — TD was the second Canadian bank to up its dividend in recent days — capped a relatively healthy quarter for the country’s big banks.
“Worries about Canadian banks seem to fade away each quarter as we get strong earnings,” said Schwartz.
But, he added, “there’s still a little bit in the back of our minds about how poorly the U.S. and European banks performed in the summer, so no one wants to be the first in line and push up the banks just yet.”
Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) was another top decliner, falling 4.4 percent to C$4.56, a day after the world’s No. 3 commercial planemaker spooked investors with a dismal sales outlook for its regional jets. [ID:nL4E7K12HR]
Gold-mining stocks added 0.6 percent, helping push the broader materials sector into positive territory even as the price of bullion eased. Goldcorp (G.TO) rose 2.2 percent to C$52.13, and Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO) was up 2.1 percent at C$19.91. [GOL/]
($1=$0.98 Canadian) (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)