TORONTO, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Canada's main stock market in Toronto closed at its lowest point since Feb. 2 on Monday, as steep losses in gold stocks outpaced gains in Health Care and Energy sectors.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark Standard & Poor's/TSX Composite slumped 69.96 points, or 0.45 percent, to begin the week at 15,463.51 points. Four of the ten sub-groups ended the session in negative territory.
After reaching a record high last Tuesday, the TSX has declined in four straight sessions, falling a combined 458.86 points.
The Materials group had the biggest impact, dipping 3.61 percent as the spot price of gold and silver both fell. An ounce of gold slipped 0.38 percent to 1,252.10 U.S. dollars, while the same weight of silver retreated 0.44 percent to 18.24 U.S. dollars.
Gold miners B2Gold Corp. and IAMGOLD Corporation were hit the hardest, plunging 9.11 percent and 8.47 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Barrick Gold Corporation, the world's largest producer of gold, saw shares tumble 3.66 percent to 24.73 Canadian dollars (18.79 U.S. dollars) a share.
Other groups to lose ground on the day were: Utilities (0.70 percent), Consumer Staples (0.51 percent), and Financials (0.36 percent).
The TSX Financials group, which accounts for the largest weight of any group in the index, experienced a setback after three of the country's largest banks ended the day lower. Shares of Bank of Montreal and Bank of Nova Scotia saw respective declines of 1.40 percent and 1.37 percent. Meanwhile, Toronto-Dominion Bank was the seventh most traded stock with more than 8.1 million shares exchanged to close at 68.91 Canadian dollars (52.35 U.S. dollars), 0.51 percent lower.
On a positive note, Health Care group saw the biggest percentage growth on the day, rising 0.86 percent. Quebec-based drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. shares jumped 3.49 percent to 21.94 Canadian dollars (16.67 U.S. dollars) after announcing that they have increased their sales force by nearly 40 percent for their Salix subsidiary. Also finishing higher within the group were ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (2.22 percent gain) and Knight Therapeutics Inc. (1.12 percent gain).
The TSX Energy group also contributed, gaining 0.41 percent on the day. Enbridge Inc. was the top traded stock on the day with more than 91 million shares exchanged after the firm announced the closing of a merger with Spectra Energy. Shares of the Calgary-based firm climbed 3.97 percent to close the day at 56.35 Canadian dollars (42.81 U.S. dollars).
With April Brent crude oil contracts inching down 9 cents to 55.96 U.S. dollars a barrel, stock price of two other energy firms saw little change. Suncor Energy Inc. faded 0.02 percent, while Encana Corporation fell 0.14 percent.
The remaining groups to finish Monday ahead were: Industrials (0.21 percent), Telecommunications (0.17 percent), Information Technology (0.14 percent), and Consumer Discretionary (0.04 percent).
Industrials was pushed down by Montreal-based Bombardier Inc., falling 1.67 percent to close at 2.36 Canadian dollars (1.79 U.S. dollars).
The Canadian dollar fell 0.31 cents to start the week at 0.7597 U.S. dollars.