TSX hits 11-week low on weak banks, energy

Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:18pm EDT
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By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks fell to a near 11-week low on Thursday as energy issues skidded on weak oil prices and U.S. jobless data fueled worries about the pace of global economic recovery.

The hefty energy sector, which makes up nearly a quarter of the broader index, sank nearly 1.0 percent as oil prices fell for a third straight session on growing talk of a release of strategic petroleum reserves by consumer nations spurred profit-taking.

U.S. natural gas futures tumbled on Thursday, with the front-month contract ending at a 10-year low as mild weather and bearish inventory and production data undercut prices. <O/R> <NGA/US>

Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) fell 1.1 percent to C$32.46 and Talisman TLM.TO sank 2.1 percent to C$12.39. Encana (ECA.TO: Quote) shed 2.2 percent to C$19.70.

"It's not really a surprise when you see the pressure on the natural gas side and crude oil," Jennifer Dowty, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management, said of the drop in the energy complex.

U.S. economic data was also a key factor weighing on global equities, money managers said.

New U.S. claims for jobless benefits fell slightly last week, but missed forecasts of a greater decline, while the prior week's number was revised up. After a period of improvement, some investors said the jobs numbers showed worrisome signs of stalling.

That followed a U.S. durable goods report on Wednesday that was slightly softer than expected, casting doubt about the health of the world's biggest economy.   Continued...

A Bay Street sign is seen at the financial district in Toronto, October 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA)