* TSX falls 0.83 percent to 11,442.02
* Bank, insurers drop with U.S. financials after downgrade
* Gold shares reverse despite firmer gold price (Adds details)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index slid hard late in the day on Wednesday as bank and insurance shares fell on a U.S. analyst’s report and as profit-taking hit gold-mining shares despite higher gold prices.
Banks and insurers in Toronto tracked U.S. financial stocks, which were hit by a late-day selloff after an influential analyst recommended selling Wells Fargo stock. [ID:nWNAB2127]
Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) led all decliners, dropping 1.65 percent to C$64.20, followed by Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), off 2.5 percent at C$21.80. Four other banks and insurers were among the top 10 heavyweight decliners.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 96.10 points, or 0.83 percent, at 11,442.02, its first significant drop in a week. All 10 main sectors fell.
The main index has traded without much conviction recently as investors have tried to reconcile mixed earnings reports and economic indicators from Canada and the United States, a stronger Canadian dollar, and commodity prices that have pushed higher. The TSX is up 53 percent since March.
“One of the interesting things we discuss around here is the probability of a correction,” said Philip Petursson, director of institutional equities, for MFC Global Investment Management.
“We’re not trading at excessive levels, we’re trading below the historical average on a forward P/E basis, so overall investors are becoming more comfortable with the fact that markets are trending in the right direction,” Petursson said.
“While we see perhaps a 2 percent dip every so often, it’s bought back up within a day or two.”
Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, said corporate earnings in the United States have generally beaten expectations. Only a few Canadian earnings have trickled in so far, including Canadian National Rail (CNR.TO) [ID:nN14246637] and Husky Energy (HSE.TO) [ID:nN20318322]. The bulk come out in the next two weeks.
A key earnings report on Thursday will be from fertilizer producer Potash Corp (POT.TO). The market will be looking for insight on global potash demand and pricing. [ID:nN21344922]
Nakamoto said he expects the TSX to build on recent gains now that the Bank of Canada has repeated its commitment to keep interest rates low. [ID:nN19231469]
“That’s a ‘go’ sign,” he said. “What I mean by that is that you’re not going to face competition from rising interest rates, which tends to sap money away ... A combination of low interest rates, better than expected profits, tells me that it’ll still continue to move up.”
Gold-mining shares were up early in the session, but some big names fell even though the price of the precious metal rose above $1,055 an ounce. [GOL/]
Kinross Gold (K.TO) fell 1.9 percent to C$23.19, while Goldcorp (G.TO) lost 1.2 percent to C$43.07. But Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), which led all notable advancers at one point, managed to stay in positive territory, up 0.48 percent at C$39.85.
Oil and gas shares also slipped even as the price of crude jumped nearly 3 percent to settle above $81 a barrel, its highest close in more than a year. [O/R]
Suncor (SU.TO) dropped 0.48 percent to C$39.68.
In other news, Research In Motion RIM.TO rolled out an updated version of its top-end BlackBerry Bold smartphone, aimed at the company’s base of professional users as well as wealthier retail consumers. RIM stock was off 1.6 percent at C$68.78. [ID:nN20434496]
$1=$1.04 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway