* TSX falls 99.64 points, or 0.86 percent, at 11,462.87
* Index touches lowest point since July 2010
* Eight of 10 sectors higher; materials, energy weigh (Updates to close, adds analyst’s comment, details)
By Trish Nixon
TORONTO, Sept 23 (Reuters) - A selloff in resource-based shares drove Toronto’s main stock index to a 2011 low and into bear territory on Friday as growing fears of a global recession and a Greek debt default battered commodities.
The TSX index’s heavyweight materials group tumbled 4.4 percent as base-metal miners continued their fall and as gold prices plunged more than 6 percent, the biggest slide since the financial crisis of 2008. The TSX’s gold-mining sub-group was down 5 percent. [MET/L] [GOL/]
“Golds were for most of the year the big performers, and then fears of the recession, profit-taking, and (U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben) Bernanke’s ineffective attempt at propping things up all converged in sending them down,” said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada.
“These stocks got caught in the downdraft, just like we saw in ‘08.”
Miner Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) was the heaviest decliner, down 4.9 percent at C$47.73, while GoldCorp (G.TO) fell 4.4 percent to C$46.95.
First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) tumbled 7.3 percent to C$13.71 as copper fell to its lowest level since August 2010. [MET/L]
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the session down 99.64 points, or 0.86 percent, at 11,462.87. It touched a session low of 11,355.82, its weakest point since July 2010.
Eight of the 10 index sectors were higher, but energy stocks sank 1.1 percent as oil fell to six-week lows. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) slipped 2.2 percent to C$30.23. [O/R]
The financials group helped cushion the losses as it held on to moderate gains, ending the session up 0.5 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was the index’s most heavily weighted advancer, up 1.6 percent at C$46.09, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) rose 1.5 percent to C$50.73.
“It’s sort of the quiet before the storm, we haven’t figured out yet what’s going to happen with the European banks,” Ing said.
“There’s the inevitable contagion, and our banks are not immune from the problems overseas or south of the border.”
The TSX lost nearly 7 percent of its value this week and has tumbled more than 20 percent from the 2011 high it set in March, meeting the definition of a bear move.
A pledge by G20 policymakers that they will calm the global financial system failed to appease investors, who are concerned that authorities are unable to respond effectively to the mounting euro zone debt crisis and sluggish growth in major world economies. [nL5E7KN1IW]
($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Editing by Peter Galloway)