TSX drops on worries about China demand

Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:39pm EDT
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By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index fell for the first time in four sessions on Monday as weak Chinese data fueled growth worries weighing on oil and metals prices and pressuring the resource-heavy market's key mining and energy sectors.

Leading names on the downside included oil companies Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote), down 3.1 percent at C$34.40, and Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote), which fell 3.1 percent to C$33.19.

Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) shed 1.4 percent at C$46.25, while diversified miner Teck Resources TCKb.TO fell 2.9 percent to C$35.49.

Resource issues retreated as China posted its largest trade deficit in a decade, fanning worries about the extent to which frail foreign demand held Chinese export growth well below expectations.

Robert McWhirter, president and portfolio manager at Selective Asset Management Inc, said the news revived jitters over China's move earlier this month to cut its economic growth target to the lowest level in eight years.

"There are concerns that China has effectively targeted a lower rate of growth. People are still trying to figure out what does all that mean to consumption," said McWhirter.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished down 75.61 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,428.01, with half its 10 main sectors lower.

The materials group fell 1.4 percent and the energy sector dropped 1.8 percent, leading the broader index lower. <O/R> <GOL/>   Continued...