* TSX down 36.6 points, or 0.29 percent, at 12,683.96
* Seven of 10 sectors lower; banks, energy drag (Adds additional company news)
By Trish Nixon
TORONTO, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index slipped on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave no indications of new stimulus measures to boost the flagging U.S. economy in a keenly awaited speech.
Investors were also cautious ahead of a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama calling for urgent steps to spur the economy and create jobs. But Canadian stocks outperformed their U.S. counterparts, helped by a rise in heavily weighted gold miners.
“There are some pretty severe stresses that are not being dealt with very well, or in any sort convincing fashion yet, so after a bit of rebound we are turning around and heading into the main trend in the market right now, which is down,” said Levente Mady, market strategist at Union Securities in Vancouver.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 36.6 points, or 0.29 percent at 12,683.96. Seven of the 10 main sectors were lower.
Investors have been looking to policymakers to address a host of concerns from slowing global growth to Europe’s debt crisis.
Obama, who is to speak at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT), is expected to lay out a $300 billion plan to include tax cuts for the middle class and businesses and new infrastructure spending. [nN1E7870HE]
“It seems to me like every time those guys open their mouth the market is just saying enough already and starts heading south,” Levente added.
Financial stocks weighed most heavily on the TSX, falling 0.9 percent to give back the previous sessions gains. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was the index’s heaviest drag, falling 1.7 percent to C$76.31. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) lost 0.8 percent to hit C$52.81.
Energy shares lost 0.7 percent as the price of oil tracked equities lower. Talisman Energy TLM.TO fell 2 percent to C$15.61. [O/R]
But the TSX outperformed U.S. markets, as defensive sectors helped to cushion the fall. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX were both down more than 1 percent.
“We’re benefiting from the price of gold,” said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
“Plus we’ve got a bit of a bump up in the utilities sector, people buying utilities looking for yields.”
Gold miners added 2 percent as the price of the safe-haven metal surged, pushing the broader materials sector into positive territory. [GOL/]
Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) gained 1.7 percent to C$54.61, and Goldcorp (G.TO) added 1.6 percent to C$55.30.
In corporate news, Canadian holiday travel operator Transat TRZb.TO said it plans to cut costs and streamline its management as it braces for another quarter of higher fuel costs and emptier planes eating into margins. The news sent its shares down 9.26 percent C$7.25. [ID:nL3E7K822U]
Canadian regulators extended a cease-trade order on shares of Sino-Forest TRE.TO until Jan. 25 as they investigate a short-seller’s damaging allegations of fraud at the Chinese forestry firm. [ID:nN1E7870FF] (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)