April 24, 2008 / 1:04 PM / 11 years ago

Toronto stocks hit by falling commodity prices

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index pared early losses but still ended more than 100 points lower on Thursday, dragged down by resource shares, which dropped with tumbling commodity prices.

Oil and gas producer Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) fell C$3.96, or 4.5 percent, to C$83.25, as crude oil prices dropped amid gains in the U.S. dollar. Oil settled down $2.24 at $116.06 a barrel, putting it further away from its recent record peak of near $120.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) slid C$1.72, or 1.5 percent, to C$114.28 after it posted an increase in profit, but cut its production target for the year as oil sands output fell behind expectations. Overall, the energy sector gave up 3.2 percent.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 103.47 points, or 0.74 percent, at 13,966.33 with four of its 10 main sectors pointing lower.

The downward drive was also pushed by Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO, even though the fertilizer company reported that its first-quarter profit nearly tripled and raised its expectations for the rest of the year due to surging fertilizer demand and prices.

Potash Corp finished down C$9.60, or 4.7 percent, at C$196.90. The materials sector, home to resource shares, shed 3.5 percent.

Gold producers were battered as declines in their underlying commodity sent Goldcorp (G.TO) down C$2.22, or 5.7 percent, to C$36.75, and Kinross Gold (K.TO) down C$1.64, or 7.7 percent, to C$19.65. The subindex slumped 4.1 percent.

Financial and tech companies led the upside, with Research In Motion RIM.TO gaining C$3.09, or 2.5 percent, to C$125.77, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) advancing C$2.95, or 4.3 percent, to C$71.35.

Also in the tech space, contract electronics maker Celestica (CLS.TO) rose after it returned to first-quarter profit and improved its forecast. Celestica jumped C$2.30, or 34.6 percent, to C$8.95, while the sector gained 3.3 percent.

The large financials group pushed up 2.3 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was up C$1.98, or 3.1 percent, at C$65.93.

($1=$1.01 Canadian)

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Peter Galloway

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