(Adds comment, detail, official closing data)
By Wojtek Dabrowski
TORONTO, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The benchmark index of the Toronto Stock Exchange finished lower on Thursday as stronger oil and gold prices in wake of the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto failed to offset sagging financial shares.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 19.27 points, or 0.14 percent, to close at 13,675.57.
While oil and gold both moved higher because of the geopolitical instability resulting from Bhutto’s death, persistent worries about the credit crisis and the U.S. economy continued to drag on financials.
“Financials are being given a bit of a haircut,” said Adrian Mastracci, portfolio manager at KCM Wealth Management in Vancouver. “I don’t think we’re done here, either.”
Of the 10 main groups of the Toronto index, four finished higher. Two of those were the heavyweight energy and materials groups, which added 0.32 percent and 1.35 percent, respectively.
However, financials make up the third key pillar of the Toronto market, and they paced 1.01 percent lower.
U.S. oil rose 65 cents to settle at $96.62 on news of Bhutto’s death, as well as on falling U.S. crude stocks. Gold rose $2.20 to $826.80 an ounce after hitting a one-month high of $830.05 earlier in the session.
Bhutto’s death could pose a threat to regional stability and to Pakistan’s move toward a stable democracy, observers said.
“There’s some suggestion that elections could be put off,” Paul Taylor, chief investment officer at BMO Harris Investment Management, said of the situation. “Certainly, versus yesterday, the risk level has increased.”
$1=$0.98 Canadian Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson