* TSX index falls 46.77 points to 9,348.03
* Swine flu concerns weigh on sentiment
* Lower oil and gold prices drag on index (Adds details and comments)
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO, April 28 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index finished lower for a second straight session on Tuesday as worries about the dangers of a possible swine flu pandemic pulled down commodities prices.
Commodity-related issues, which make up about 40 percent of the index, led the way lower. The energy sector slipped 1.22 percent as oil prices fell below $50 a barrel on expectations of a swine-flu-related drop in demand. [ID:nSP458959]
“(Price of oil has been) fairly volatile but it’s been trying to hold around $50 level. If it sticks around the $50 level I think we’ll see the oil complex stay reasonably firm,” said Lex Kerkovius, senior research analyst at McLean and Partners Wealth Management Ltd., in Calgary, Alberta.
Petro-Canada PCA.TO finished higher, up 0.2 percent at C$37.65, after it reported a first-quarter loss. The weak results were not expected to bring a big drop in Petro-Canada’s share price since it’s backstopped by Suncor’s (SU.TO) takeover bid of 1.28 of its shares for each PetroCan share. [ID:nN27537864]
Suncor fell 1.18 percent to C$30.11.
Independent oil and gas explorer Nexen’s NXY.TO profit fell 79 percent, but beat expectations. Its shares were off 0.83 percent at C$22.84. [ID:nBNG88524]
The materials sector, home to gold miners, fell 1.63 percent. The precious metal fell below $890 an ounce on technical selling, dragging top Canadian gold miner Barrick Gold down 2.94 percent to C$35.60.
But EnCana, a big oil and gas player, offset the energy group’s losses with a 1.1 percent rise to C$54.46. Potash Corp of Saskatchewan, a major component of the materials group, rose 1.44 percent gain to C$100.71.
The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 46.77 points, or 0.5 percent, at 9,348.03. Six of the index’s 10 main groups were lower.
Earlier the index fell as much as 1.3 percent to 9,273.80, its lowest level in nearly a week but it clawed back some losses after data showed U.S. consumer confidence in April had its biggest jump in more than three years. [ID:nN28304426]
“We started quite negative this morning based on the swine flu and the news down in the States that Citigroup and Bank of America may need some more cash. Then the confidence numbers came out and they were much better than expected and people started to rally around those,” Kerkovius said.
The financial sector, which accounts for about a third of the broader index, managed to edge up 0.22 percent despite the reports that Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and Citigroup Inc (C.N) may need more capital. [ID:nBNG438915]
Fears that swine flu may spread has put pressure on global markets but the losses have been relatively light. New Zealand and Israel confirmed cases of swine flu on Tuesday to become the latest countries hit by the virus, which has killed 149 people in Mexico. Canada’s swine flu cases jumped to 13, but all cases were considered mild. [ID:nFLU]
$1=$1.22 Canadian Reporting by Ka Yan Ng; editing by Peter Galloway