October 11, 2008 / 12:10 AM / in 9 years

Toronto stocks swoon amid panic and commodities drop

TORONTO (Reuters) - The main index of the Toronto Stock Exchange tumbled almost 6 percent on Friday as the latest wave of panic swept through global equity markets, wiping billions of dollars more from investor portfolios and pushing commodity prices sharply lower.

<p>A Bay Street sign is seen at the financial district in Toronto, October 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>

The size of the rout seen in recent weeks continues to balloon: the benchmark S&P/TSX composite index has lost roughly C$440 billion in market value since the end of August.

Every sector of the index moved lower on Friday with the market especially spooked by a drop in the price of oil and gold. U.S. crude fell more than 10 percent on recession fears, while gold fell about 3 percent.

“Within the Canadian equity market, there’s no hiding anywhere, period,” said Paul Taylor, chief investment officer at BMO Harris Investment Management Inc. “It’s very hard to avoid this train wreck.”

The energy and materials subgroups lost 8.43 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively. Financials shed 3.33 percent.

Net loss leaders included zinc giant Teck Cominco, which fell 14.4 percent to close at C$16.36. Energy group Nexen lost 13.6 percent to finish at C$14.01.

Agnico-Eagle Mines fell 14.2 percent to end at C$47.46. Inmet Mining swooned almost 20 percent to C$28.65.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 535.02 points, or 5.57 percent, to close at 9,065.16. The benchmark is down 16.1 percent in the last week alone.

The S&P/TSX 60 index of Canadian blue chip names gave up 5.9 percent to close at 546.25.

Sal Masionis, a broker at Brant Securities, said panic and a lack of confidence have paralyzed the markets.

“The average investor, he’s like a deer in the headlights -- he can’t figure out what to do,” he said. “Nobody knows.”

In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average notched yet another negative session, shedding 128 points, or 1.5 percent, to end at 8,451.19. The tech heavy Nasdaq eked out a gain of 0.27 percent to end at 1,649.51.

($1=$1.17 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway

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