TSX drops to near three-week low as U.S. government stays shut

Thu Oct 3, 2013 7:52pm EDT
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By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index dropped on Thursday to its lowest in nearly three weeks as negative sentiment caused by the extended U.S. government shutdown helped offset upbeat economic data from China.

Every major sector on the index was trading in the red, taking the Toronto market into negative territory for a second straight session.

Investors also cast an eye on BlackBerry (BB.TO: Quote), which is the focus of a $4.7 billion bid from a consortium led by Fairfax Financial (FFH.TO: Quote). Shares of the smartphone maker shed 3.6 percent.

Data showed rising demand caused activity in China's services sector to expand at the fastest pace in six months in September but failed to lift sentiment.

The focus of the market remained the U.S. government shutdown, which dragged into a third day, highlighting the political gridlock in Washington over the debt crisis.

"The market would suggest that they think this would ultimately get resolved," said Paul Hand, managing director at RBC Capital Markets. "But minute-by-minute people do feel uncertainty."

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 103.88 points, or 0.81 percent, at 12,735.12, after reaching 12,700.02, its lowest since September 13.

About 254 million shares changed hands on Thursday, compared with an average daily volume of 304 million shares in September, according to market operator TMX Group.   Continued...

An electronic board displays the midday TSX index in Toronto February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch