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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index slipped on Tuesday as worries about increasing violence in Ukraine raised fears that the conflict could be have a broader impact and fueled declines in almost every major sector.
Ukraine appeared to be inching closer towards war, with supporters of Russia and of a united Ukraine accusing one another of tearing the country apart.
Data that showed a narrowing of the U.S. trade deficit in March failed to bring much comfort. And Canada's trade surplus plummeted to C$79 million ($72 million) in March from C$847 million in February.
The Toronto market, which is up about 7.3 percent this year, slipped for a second straight session.
"The geopolitical factors are playing a big role today," said Atul Tiwari, managing director of Vanguard Investments Canada, a unit of Vanguard Group, which manages more than $2.8 trillion in global assets.
"There's a lot of uncertainty and unknowns involved, and markets generally don't like that," he said, adding investors were worried the instability could spread to the entire region.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 84.74 points, or 0.58 percent, at 14,612.29.
Tiwari said sentiment was positive for Canadian equities.
He is also seeing increasing momentum in the Canadian ETF market. Tiwari added that internal data indicated strong inflows into U.S. equities as investors chase returns from U.S. stocks, which had a better year than Canadian equities in 2013.
Nine of the 10 main sectors on the Canadian index were in the red on Tuesday.
The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, shed 0.8 percent. Potash Corp (POT.TO) slipped 0.6 percent to C$39.38. With the price of bullion falling, Barrick Gold Corp (ABX.TO) fell 0.7 percent to C$18.97.
In corporate news, BCE Inc (BCE.TO) reported a better-than-expected adjusted profit, helped by the inclusion of TV and radio content producer Astral Media and strong growth in its wireless business. But the stock gave back 0.9 percent to C$48.50.
WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) dropped 2.2 percent to C$24.42 after the carrier reported quarterly results.
Editing by Andrew Hay and Nick Zieminski