By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock marketindex fell for a second straight session Wednesday, ledlower by weak gold miners as investors squared positionsfollowing recent strength.
The index's heavyweight materials sector, home to minersand fertilizer companies, sank 1 percent despite steadiness inbullion prices.
Heavyweight names on the downside included Barrick Gold, down 1.5 percent at C$47.20, and Goldcorp,also down 1.5 percent.
Energy producers fell 0.6 percent despite firmness in oilprices, which rose above $74 a barrel. Suncor Energydropped 0.8 percent to C$33.21, while Canadian NaturalResources fell 1.24 percent to C$34.33.
"The major reason for the TSX to be lower today isbecause of profit-taking. That's been caused because the TSXhas reached a level that is fairly close to multi-month highs,"said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securitiesin Vancouver.
"There is a section of the market that's quite bearish onthe fundamentals. For the TSX to get to multi-month highs orget close to it is a heck of a solid reason for people to takemoney off the table."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended the day down 59.72 points, or 0.49 percent, at12,042.26, with eight of its 10 main groups lower.
The blue chip S&P/TSX 60 index closed 3.63 points,or 0.51 percent, lower at 701.50.
It was the index's second day of retreat after rising foreight consecutive trading days. Late last week, the indexbrushed against this year's high of around 12,300, which wasset in April.
Seasonal factors also likely contributed to the index'sdrop, said Aaron Fennell, senior market strategist atLind-Waldock Canada.
"People get back from vacations and start looking at theirportfolios and decide to clean out anything they're concernedabout," he said.
"That's probably why equity markets tend to do very poorlyin the fall because any negativity that has been accumulatingin the marketplace is acted on after Labour Day."
Financial stocks, up 0.1 percent, were one bright spot onthe TSX as banks rose on market hope that details expected froma meeting of the Basel banking committee on new capitalrequirements this coming weekend might free banks to raisedividends.
Bank of Montreal rose 1.7 percent to C$60.13,while Royal Bank of Canada climbed 0.2 percent toC$52.51.
Investors also digested the Bank of Canada's decision onWednesday to raise its benchmark interest rate for a thirdconsecutive time this year, nudging the rate up 25 basis pointsto 1 percent.
($1=$1.04 Canadian) (Additional reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by PeterGalloway)