TSX skids to near 7-week low on growth fears

Tue Mar 6, 2012 4:53pm EST
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By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index skidded to its lowest level in nearly seven weeks on Tuesday, rattled by fears that the global growth outlook is darkening and Greece may not be able to complete a major debt restructuring deal.

The resource-heavy index joined global markets in a sharp retreat on concerns about the outlook for the global economy. The European Union said on Tuesday a collapse in household spending, exports and manufacturing deflated the euro zone's economy in the final months of 2011.

Data also showed Brazil's gross domestic product expanded by a meager 2.7 percent in 2011, adding to concerns after China cut its growth outlook the day before. Expected growth in emerging markets has been a major impetus for recent equity gains.

The global jitters helped send the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE down 225.32 points, or 1.8 percent - its steepest one-day percentage loss so far this year - to 12,298.63. Earlier, it hit 12,249.85, its weakest level since January 18.

Nine of the TSX's 10 main sectors finished lower, with consumer staples unchanged.

The big materials and energy sectors fell 2.3 percent and 2.8 percent respectively, as commodity prices slid on concerns about the demand outlook. <O/R> <METL/>

Leading the TSX lower was Suncor Energy (SU.TO: Quote), which sank 4.3 percent to C$33.32. Fellow oil company Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO: Quote) tumbled 1 percent to C$35.25.

On the mining side, Goldcorp (G.TO: Quote) dropped 1.6 percent to C$46.89 and First Quantum (FM.TO: Quote) slid 6.2 percent to C$20.60. Fertilizer company Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote) sank 3.2 percent to C$43.28.   Continued...

A Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) logo is seen in Toronto November 9, 2007.  REUTERS/Mark Blinch