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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Monday, weighed down by financial, consumer and industrial stocks as a slump in Chinese shares and weak economic data spooked investors in the first session of 2016.
The index fell for the fourth straight session, although dropping less than many other major markets as gold stocks rallied. It follows an 11 percent loss in 2015, its worst year since the global financial crisis of 2008.
"China had the big sell-off and that's kind of rolled through the rest of the markets around the world," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.
Weak economic data was the primary factor driving markets lower, according to Cieszynski, while the spike in Middle East tensions compounded matters.
Data revealed disappointing factory activity in China, the United States and Canada for December.
The heavily weighted financial services sector was the biggest drag on the market, falling 1.3 percent.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 82.8 points, or 0.64 percent, to 12,927.15, with eight of the index's 10 main groups in negative territory.
The index hit a three-week low at 12,748.45 before paring losses.
Crude oil swung lower on the day, weighing on energy stocks. U.S. crude CLc1 prices settled at $36.76 a barrel, down 0.76 percent. [O/R]
Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) fell 1.2 percent to C$35.28. Its top executive said it was "conceivable but highly improbable" that the company will extend a C$4.3 billion ($3.08 billion) hostile takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd COS.TO beyond this week's deadline.
The rally in gold stocks helped "cushion the blow," said Cieszynski.
Gold futures GCc1 rose 1.4 percent to $1,074.5 an ounce as investors sought a safe haven. [GOL/]
Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Dan Grebler