* TSX down 0.78 pct at 8,123.02
* Index up 2 percent on the week
* Financials lead TSX fall; Citigroup weighs (Adds details, quote)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, Feb 27 (Reuters) -Toronto’s main stock index retreated on Friday after three days of gains as the U.S. government’s announcement that it will take an equity stake in Citigroup put pressure on the heavily weighted financial sector.
Financial shares dropped 3.3 percent on fears of the consequences of governments taking big stakes in banks after the U.S. Treasury said it will convert some of the preferred stock it holds in lender Citigroup into common stock. [ID:nN27330392]
Such a move results in a “huge dilution to the current shareholders,” said Jennifer Radman, vice president at Caldwell Investment Management Ltd.
“That’s really the concern there,” she said. “You’d like to be able to get into a stock and know that the earnings going forward are going to be entirely yours, but the banks seem to need more and more capital, so nobody’s really certain how much more financings are to come.”
Among the biggest contributors to the index’s fall were insurer Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), down 9 percent at C$12.90, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), which shed 3.1 percent to C$30.92. Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) dropped 6 percent to C$19.91, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) fell 1.5 percent to C$37.39.
As well, Radman said investors were likely locking in profits after the financials sector rallied earlier this week as quarterly results from big Canadian banks topped expectations.
Another factor that pressured the financials sector was news that General Electric Co (GE.N), which operates a large financing unit, plans to chop its dividend by 68 percent. [ID:nN27359109]
As one of the most diversified industrials in the world, the move by GE “put quite a scare in the market,” said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung & Co Investment Counsel.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 63.80 points, or 0.78 percent, to 8,123.02, with four of its 10 main sectors lower. There was no change in the information technology sector.
The key index was up 2 percent on the week.
Industrials fell 1.41 percent, consumer discretionary stocks dropped 0.3 percent, while materials sagged 0.03 percent.
The index was also pressured by poor economic data, with revised figures showing the U.S. economy contracted at its sharpest rate since early 1982 in the fourth quarter [ID:nN27328979], while Canadian data showed the current account plunged into deficit in the fourth quarter for the first time in nearly a decade. [ID:nN27334437]
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index .TSE60 closed 4.30 points lower, or 0.87 percent, at 489.56. ($1=$1.27 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Peter Galloway)