* TSX falls 52.58 points, or 0.43 percent, to 12,178.01 * Canadian Natural drops 3.7 percent * Index hits more than two-week low * Eight of ten subgroups decline By John Tilak TORONTO, Nov 8 Canada's main stock index fell on Thursday, led lower by the energy sector, which was hurt by a drop in Canadian Natural Resources Ltd after it cut its output forecast. Toronto stocks traded stronger at one point in a bumpy session with investors sifting through positive U.S. jobs data and as the European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged. Many investors remain concerned about resolving the issue of the U.S. "fiscal cliff" - a mix of tax increases and spending cuts due to extract some $600 billion from the economy starting early in the new year barring a deal on Capitol Hill. "We have a gridlock. The market is saying, 'Show us something. Show us that you can resolve the problems that are out there,'" said Levente Mady, senior portfolio manager at PI Financial Corp. In mid-afternoon trading, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 52.58 points, or 0.43 percent, at 12,178.01. The index hit its lowest level in more than two weeks, at one point touching 12,164.11. Eight of the index's 10 main subgroups were trading lower. The energy and financial subgroups helped lead the decline, falling 1.18 percent and 0.61 percent, respectively. Shares of Canadian Natural fell 3.7 percent to C$27.88 after the country's biggest independent oil and gas producer reported a 57 percent fall in quarterly profit and cut its full-year forecast for crude oil and natural gas liquids output. It played the biggest role of any single stock in leading the market lower. Some of Canada's major banks were also dragging the index downward. Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest bank, fell 1.01 percent to C$55.76, Bank of Nova Scotia , was down 0.76 percent at C$53.42 and Toronto Dominion Bank last 0.75 percent to trade at C$80.41. "If things are not worked out, the financials are going to be bearing the brunt. It is a very risky part of the market," Mady added. The Canadian market's losses were partially offset by gains in Kinross Gold Corp, up 7.17 percent at C$10.01, and Sun Life Financial, up 3.53 percent at C$25.23. Kinross on Wednesday posted a third-quarter profit that topped expectations and said it expects to meet the higher end of its production targets for the year. Sun Life, Canada's No. 3 life insurer, said after markets closed on Wednesday that it swung back to a third-quarter profit due to better results from investments. Gold miners made gains as prices for gold surged in a volatile session. Barrick Gold Corp was last trading up 1.16 percent at C$36.57 and Goldcorp Inc rose 0.92 percent to C$44.92.
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With the Nifty breaching 8,500, sentiments are again bullish. But markets have been in the 8,200-8,600 range for some time and stocks across the board do not give the required confidence except for the liquidity factor. Many frontline stocks are not participating on the upside and the core sector is in a downtrend, writes Ambareesh Baliga. Column