Weak China, Europe data hits Toronto stocks

Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:34pm EDT
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By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's resource-heavy stock index retreated on Thursday alongside global stock markets as weak Chinese and euro zone manufacturing data sparked concerns that global economic growth is slowing.

Chinese manufacturing slumped for a fifth month in March, and manufacturing in the euro zone showed new signs of wilting, according to surveys on Thursday. The soft manufacturing picture helped to push down oil and base metals prices, as well as broader global equity markets.

In Toronto, heavyweight names on the downside included Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO, down 3.4 percent at C$33.80, and Suncor Energy SU.TO, which fell 1.8 percent to C$32.47, as the price of oil skidded 1 percent. Teck Resources TCKb.TO fell 1.8 percent to C$35.05, and First Quantum FM.TO skidded 3 percent to C$19.13.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished down 74.68 points, or 0.6 percent, at 12,361.81, with six of the index's 10 main sectors lower.

The index is up about 3 percent so far this year.

"The market has had a nice run so it didn't take very much to have a setback here," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds.

"The Chinese numbers that came out were not totally unexpected. We knew things just can't keep on growing at 10 and 11 percent," he said. "Europe is no surprise. If they are not in recession they will be there shortly."

The blue-chip SoS&P/TSX 60 ended down 3.37 points, or 0.48 percent, at 705.52.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, March 19, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid