* TSX down 3.44 points, or 0.03 percent, at 11,718.63
* Seven of TSX’s 10 main sectors lower
* Potash up 0.7 pct, among big deals in play this month (Updates to close, adds details)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended slightly lower on Monday, dragged down by weakness in gold miners and by investor worries that the outlook for economic recovery is uncertain.
Miner Barrick Gold ABX.TO sank 1.1 percent to C$46.38, while Goldcorp G.TO fell 1.7 percent to C$43.20 as a firmer greenback kept bullion prices from rising further and gold ended largely flat ahead of key U.S. economic data due later this week.
The broader materials sector fell 0.64 percent. [GOL/]
“Lingering yet waning optimism regarding M&A” had kept the TSX above break-even for most of the day, but uncertainty about the economic outlook weighed on investor sentiment, said Rick Meslin, head of Canadian equities at UBS.
“What we’re seeing now is people take a little bit of money off. But for the M&A optimism I’d expect the market to be a lot lower as average sentiment about whether the recovery is going to be there or not has really not become clear. I’d say sentiment is uncertain at best.”
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished the session down 3.44 points, or 0.03 percent, at 11,718.63. Seven of the index’s 10 main groups were lower.
In individual company news, takeover target Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc POT.TO, a top net gainer, climbed 0.7 percent to C$158.17.
The No. 1 fertilizer producer was put in play by BHP Billiton’s BHP.AX BLT.L $39 billion hostile bid. Potash continues to mull its alternatives and has held discussions with China’s Sinochem Group, a source close to the matter said on Monday. [ID:nN23166531]
$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson