RTTNews - Toronto stocks moved modestly lower on Thursday, led by notable weakness in the energy sector. Traders returned to work after celebrating Canada Day on Wednesday.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index has slipped 59.74 points or 0.57% to move at 10,316.84. The index fell about 1% on Tuesday after five straight days of gains.

Energy stocks are down 2.7% as crude oil prices have plunged $2.38 to $66.94 per barrel. Suncor (SU.TO) has dropped 4.7%, Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) is down 2.7% and Canadian Oil Sands (COS.UN.TO) has declined 2.2%.

In corporate news, Gastar Exploration Ltd. (YGA.TO) has rallied 33.3% after the oil and gas explorer announced Thursday that it has agreed to sell its entire interest in petroleum exploration licenses in New South Wales, or NSW, Australia and the shares of Gastar Power Pty Ltd. to affiliates of Santos Ltd. for an aggregate amount of US$240 million.

On the upside, materials stocks are up 1.5% and gold stocks are up 0.9%, although the precious metal has dropped about $12 on the Comex to give back most of yesterday's gains. Seabridge (SEA.TO) has added 5.4%, New Gold (NGD.TO) has climbed 5.2% and Iamgold (IMG.TO) is up 4.8%.

In other corporate news, Bombardier (BBD.B.TO) has declined 2.3% after the company said Tuesday after the close that it has signed a contract with the Toronto Transit Commission for the supply of 204 100% low-floor streetcars to replace the City of Toronto's aging fleet of vehicles.

Magna International (MG.A.TO) could face a rival bid from Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. in its effort to acquire Opel, according to the Globe and Mail. Sharesa re up 0.5%.

CanWest Global Communications (CGS.TO) has agreed to sell two small television stations in Montreal and Hamilton in a deal that is believed to be worth less than $5,000, according to the Globe and Mail.

On the economic front in the U.S., a Labor Department report showed that non-farm payroll employment fell by 467,000 jobs in June following a revised decrease of 322,000 jobs in May. Economists had been expected a decrease of about 365,000 jobs compared to the loss of 345,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

A separate report showed initial claims fell to 614,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 630,000. Economists had been expecting claims to fall to 615,000 from the 627,000 originally reported for the previous week.

On Tuesday, the S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 101.86 points or 0.97% to end at 10,374.91. The decline snapped a five-session streak of gains.

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