CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits near 7-month low as gold and tech shares retreat

(Adds portfolio manager quotes and details throughout; updates

* TSX closes down 51.58 points, or 0.34 percent, at

* Index posts its lowest closes since Dec. 6

* Seven of the TSX’s 10 main groups end lower

* Materials and technology both fall 1.7 percent

By Fergal Smith

TORONTO, July 4 (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock index fell
on Tuesday to its lowest close in nearly seven months, as
precious metal miners and technology shares led a retreat in
lighter than usual trading volumes with U.S. markets closed for
Independence Day.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index
, which had been closed for a public holiday on Monday,
ended down 51.58 points, or 0.34 percent, at 15,130.61, its
lowest since Dec. 6.

Volumes were the lightest since May 29.

The most influential movers on the index included major gold
miners Barrick Gold Corp, which fell nearly 3 percent
to C$20.02, and Goldcorp, which lost 3.1 percent to

Gold got a bump from safe-haven buying after a North
Korean missile launch. But the precious metal had slumped on
Monday to a seven-week low after U.S. manufacturing data boosted
expectations the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates
again this year.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals
miners and fertilizer companies, lost 1.7 percent, with First
Majestic Silver Corp down 6.1 percent at C$10.10.

The technology sector also fell 1.7 percent.

Losses for the group were consistent with the “recent
rotation to value from growth,” said Ben Jang, portfolio manager
at Nicola Wealth Management.

Investors have worried recently about high valuations
attached to sectors such as technology, whose earnings are
expected to grow faster than higher yielding stocks.

Still, fixed-income like equities such as telecoms,
utilities and real estate investment trusts “could get hurt” by
higher domestic interest rates, Jang said.

Those groups all lost ground after comments by Bank of
Canada Governor Stephen Poloz supported the view that the
central bank would hike rates as early as next week.

Inflation in Canada should be well into an uptrend by the
first half of 2018, Poloz told German newspaper Handelsblatt,
adding that policy normalization must begin before price growth
hits its target.

Seven of the index’s 10 main groups ended lower, while the
financial services, energy and industrials groups were flat or
barely higher.

Some of the country’s major banks gained ground but
Brookfield Asset Management lost 1.1 percent to C$50.33. The
company on Monday placed a formal bid for control of a Brazilian
renewable energy company, two people with knowledge of the
situation said.

U.S. crude prices were up slightly at $47.08 a
barrel, having touched their highest intraday in nearly one
(Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Chris Reese
and Diane Craft)