March 29, 2008 / 12:55 AM / in 10 years

Toronto stocks sag 170 pts, but end higher on week

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index closed more than 170 points lower on Friday as weakness in the key energy, financials and materials sectors dragged on the benchmark lower, despite gains by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd.

<p>A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 171.99 points, or 1.28 percent, at 13,233.79.

Even though Friday’s session ended in the red, the TSX still finished the week 3.6 percent higher.

“All things considered, this has been a pretty decent week for the TSX,” said Elvis Picardo, investment strategist at Northern Securities Inc in Vancouver.

The three pillars that support the TSX all gave way in Friday’s session, as energy dropped 1.04 percent, financials shed 2.8 percent and the resource-laden materials group eased 0.74 percent.

RIM was one of few standout gainers, adding C$2.55, or 2.23 percent, to finish at C$117.07, ahead of its earnings report, due on Wednesday.

Software maker Corel Corp jumped late in the day after news that its majority shareholder was seeking to buy the shares it doesn’t already own. The stock rose C$1.45, or 14.5 percent, to C$11.45.

Meanwhile, U.S. recession worries and other concerns about the wellbeing of the economy continue to weigh on investors’ minds and will likely lead to a downward trend on the TSX for the first few weeks in April, Picardo said.

“With all the bad news that’s been coming out of the U.S. economy over the past six months, you’d have to be pretty much living on Mars to be immune to that feeling of doom and gloom,” he said.

Bank shares evidenced the trend on Friday, with Royal Bank of Canada losing C$1.83, or 3.8 percent, to end at C$45.93. Bank of Montreal shed C$1.41, or 3.1 percent, to finish at C$44.52.

Among energy producers, EnCana Corp lost 75 Canadian cents to end at C$76.36. Gold miner Barrick Gold slid 55 Canadian cents to C$45.60.

Earnings season is also set to begin next month, Picardo noted. It will be an important indicator for investors, who will be watching to see what impact the economic turmoil has had on corporate results.

Market volume was 386 million shares worth C$8.35 billion. Decliners outpaced advancers 953 to 602. The S&P/TSX 60 index of Canadian bluechips lost 10.66 points to end at 776.52.

In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average gave up 86.06 points, or 0.7 percent, to end at 12,216.40. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 19.65 points, or 0.86 percent, to close at 2,261.18.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson

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