TSX dips to three-month low on weak U.S. jobless claims

Thu Apr 4, 2013 5:25pm EDT
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By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index slumped to its lowest in more than three months on Thursday, led by declines in energy and financial shares, as weak U.S. jobless claims numbers revived concerns about the health of the world's biggest economy.

The benchmark Canadian index, which recorded its biggest one-day percentage decline in more than nine months on Wednesday, fell for the fourth straight session amid a spate of negative economic news in recent days.

Data showed that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits hit a four-month high last week, suggesting the labor market recovery lost some steam in March.

"The market is like a hot air balloon. You've got to keep on pumping in hot air to make it go up," said Luciano Orengo, portfolio manager with Manulife Asset Management.

"The recovery story in the United States is not dead," he said. "You're seeing the economy take a bit of a breather."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 59.07 points, or 0.48 percent, at 12,363.05, after reaching 12,338.32, its lowest point since December 31, 2012.

The Canadian market's weakness was in contrast to the gains made by U.S. stocks.

"The big picture thesis is that it's a story mostly about Canada," said Sid Mokhtari, market technician and director, institutional equity research, CIBC World Markets. "Global index managers are reducing their exposure to Canada."   Continued...

A Bay Street sign is seen in the heart of the financial district in Toronto, August 17, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch