(Updates throughout; adds analyst comments, market action)
* TSX down 121.79 points, or 0.83 percent, to 14,521.05
* Seven of the TSX’s 10 main groups were down
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, July 20 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell on Monday as tumbling gold miners, hurt by a slump in bullion prices to five-year-lows, led the retreat.
Gold prices plunged some 4 percent, falling below $1,100 an ounce at one point, as sellers in China, a top consumer, dumped the precious metal. With the greenback strengthening ahead of an expected U.S. interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year, investors have been moving away from holding safe-haven gold.
The top four biggest drags on the index were all gold miners, each falling more than 5 percent, with many other gold names high on the list of influential decliners.
Barrick Gold Corp topped the list, plunging 10 percent to C$10.26, and Goldcorp Inc diving 8.1 percent to C$17.55. Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd also sank 8.1 percent to C$30.07.
The overall materials group, home to mining names, tumbled 4.4 percent to its lowest since the financial crisis in December 2008.
Gold futures fell 2.5 percent to $1,103.8 an ounce late morning.
At 10:55 a.m. EDT (1455 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 121.79 points, or 0.83 percent, at 14,521.05.
Of the index’s 10 main groups, seven were in the red. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the TSX by 199 to 45, for a 4.42-to-1 ratio on the downside. The index posted eight new 52-week highs and 27 new lows.
“It’s a bad start to the week. The minerals again are one of the culprits. Oil isn’t helping ... everything’s just soft,” said John Kinsey, portfolio manager at Caldwell Securities Ltd.
“We’re having a relapse. I‘m hopeful this is a reaction to the good week we had last week, and we’ll have a couple of soft days and then it will get better.”
Kinsey noted the softer volumes as well, with many trading floors emptier during the summer season, but said things could pick up as the latest quarterly earnings season gets under way.
Energy stocks were also a big drag, falling 1.9 percent. Enbridge Inc was down 1.2 percent to C$58.83 and Canadian Natural Resources was off 1.7 percent to C$32.23.
U.S. crude prices slipped 0.7 percent to $50.53 a barrel, while Brent crude lost 0.2 percent to $56.97. Signs of growing excess supply in refined products outweighed a fall in Saudi crude exports and slower U.S. rig activity, which kept prices under some pressure. (Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by James Dalgleish)