* TSX down 101.26 points, or 0.81 percent at 12,323.58
* RIM sinks 20.7 percent after weak earnings
* Eight of 10 index sectors weaker; golds rise (Recasts. Adds further analyst comment)
By Trish Nixon
TORONTO, Sept 16 (Reuters) - A plunge in Research In Motion RIM.TO shares following disappointing results and ongoing fears about European debt issues drove Toronto’s main stock index deeper in negative territory on Friday.
BlackBerry maker RIM was the single biggest drag on the market, sinking 20.7 percent to C$23.33 after reporting a steep drop in second-quarter profit on Thursday on limp sales of its smartphones and tablets. [ID:nS1E78E1MR]
“We’ve been weak vis-a-vis our European and U.S. counterparts most of the day,” said Francis Campeau, a broker at MF Global Canada, who noted RIM’s stock alone was responsible for about 25 percent of the move down.
At 2:17 p.m. (1417 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 101.26 points, or 0.81 percent at 12,323.58, after three days of gains.
Shares of energy, banks and base-metal miners also weighed heavily. Potash Corp (POT.TO) fell 2.3 percent to C$55.04, while Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) lost 1.5 percent to C$74.06 and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) fell 3.6 percent to C$32.87.
“The street is getting out of those sectors into more defensive plays,” added Campeau. “Stocks bounced nearly all week, and short-term traders are taking chips off the table just to face any headline risk that might come from Europe over the weekend.”
Eight of the 10 main sectors were weaker, but gold stocks boosted the materials sector as investors shuffled into defensive plays and the price of the metal bounced back from a two-week low. [GOL/]
Goldcorp (G.TO) was the most influential gainer, adding 1.1 percent to C$50.38, while Iamgold Corp (IMG.TO) jumped 5 percent to C$22.07.
Fears that Greek fiscal woes would bring down the European financial system had eased on Thursday after the world’s leading central banks agreed to boost short-term dollar funding for banks in Europe that have faced a dollar shortage.
But a sharp decline in French and Italian banking stocks, along with the euro’s slide, indicated caution lingers despite encouraging efforts to resolve the debt crisis. No one has suggested the crisis was fully resolved. [MKTS/GLOB]
At a meeting in Poland U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged EU finance ministers to leverage their bailout fund to better tackle the debt crisis and to start speaking with one voice, but there was no agreement on what steps to take.
Meanwhile, in the latest U.S. economic data, consumer sentiment inched up in early September, but Americans remained gloomy about the future, with a gauge of expectations falling to its lowest level since 1980. [ID:nS1E78F0G4] (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)