October 24, 2009 / 1:22 AM / in 8 years

TSX tumbles on weaker oil, Agrium outlook

TORONTO (Reuters) - The TSX fell more than 1 percent in a broad slump on Friday, dragged lower by softer oil prices and a weak outlook from fertilizer producer Agrium Inc.

<p>People attend a market open ceremony for the Toronto Stock Exchange at the TSX Broadcast Centre in Toronto June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>

Every one of the 10 main groups of the benchmark paced lower, including the heavyweight energy and financials groups, which lost 2.01 percent and 1.23 percent, respectively.

The resources-laden materials group gave up 0.94 percent.

The weak trading session came after Agrium said it expects quarterly earnings to be 90 percent to 95 percent below those of the year-earlier period. The shares dropped 7.1 percent.

“Obviously, it’s a big blow,” said Gavin Graham, director of investments at BMO Asset Management. However, he added that after a weak profit report from rival Potash Corp of Saskatchewan on Thursday “it shouldn’t have been a major surprise”.

Agrium was the second-biggest net loser, shedding C$4.21 to finish at C$55.52. Potash fell 2 percent to C$105.95.

Meanwhile, oil fell toward $80 a barrel as a stronger U.S. dollar and doubts over the pace of economic recovery choked crude’s recent rally.

Canadian energy giant EnCana Corp dropped 2.73 percent to C$63.10. Suncor Energy gave up 2.12 percent to finish at C$38.37.

Overall, the S&P/TSX composite index dropped 151.24 points, or 1.31 percent, to end at 11,382.13.

The S&P/TSX 60 index of big Canadian blue chips fell 1.46 percent to finish at 676.67.

Among financials, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce dropped 1.7 percent to close at C$64.36. Toronto-Dominion Bank fell 1 percent to C$64.97.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion also had a weaker session, dropping 2.3 percent to finish at C$69.20.

Sal Masionis, a stockbroker at Brant Securities, said that profit-taking played a role in Friday’s session, after the market’s recent rally.

In early October, the index retreated to about 10,900. This week, it almost crested 11,600.

Masionis said the recent surge doesn’t necessarily mean that investor confidence has returned to the market.

“I think there’s still a tremendous amount of nervousness out there,” he said. “The system is still under big stress.”

($1=$1.05 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway

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