CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 2012 low on Greek, China fears
* TSX falls 147.23 pts, or 1.3 pct, to 11,547.44 * Index touches 2012 low * Energy and financial shares lead losses * Greek default fears weigh * China cuts bank reserves By Jon Cook TORONTO, May 14 (Reuters) - Toronto's resource-heavy main stock index tumbled to a 2012 low on Monday as Greek political uncertainty and China slowdown fears cast a shadow over global growth prospects, hitting resource and financial shares. Greece faced a political stalemate as party leaders stuck to entrenched positions before another round of coalition talks on Monday, dashing hopes of a last-minute compromise to avoid a new election and raising fears that Greece was on track to become the first country to abandon the euro. "This massive risk aversion is hitting markets everywhere, triggered by Europe and Greece," said Carlos Leitao, chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities. All of Canada's 10 main sectors were in the red, led by the heavyweight energy group, which fell nearly 2 percent. The most influential losers among oil and gas firms included Suncor Energy, down 1.7 percent to C$28.26, Canadian Natural Resources, off 1.4 percent at C$30.56, and Cenovus Energy, which dropped 1.8 percent to C$32.38. At 11:23 a.m. (1523 GMT) the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 147.23 points, or 1.3 percent, to 11,547.44. It earlier touched 11,516.63, the lowest level since Dec. 19. The index has fallen more than 6 percent so far this month. Materials also sank 1.6 percent as mining stocks tumbled on investors' concern about slowing growth in China, the world's top copper consumer. China's decision on the weekend to cut the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves, normally seen as a pro-growth move, only served to fuel fears that the global economic outlook was likely to worsen, sending oil, copper and gold down. "As the markets get worried about global growth, coming from not just Europe but Asia as well, then natural resources in general get hit," Leitao said. Shares of top fertilizer producer Potash Corp fell 1.9 percent to C$40.20. Competitor Agrium was off 2 percent to C$81.88. Agrium was also impacted after the province of Saskatchewan said on Friday it wants Ottawa to impose conditions on Glencore's C$6.1 billion ($6.12 billion) takeover bid for Viterra Inc. Glencore plans to sell parts of Viterra, the country's top grain handler, based in Saskatchewan, to Agrium. Financial stocks sagged more than 1 percent as threats to Greece's bailout package raised the likelihood of a default by the debt-ravaged country. Although Canada's banking sector has far less exposure to Greek and other euro zone debt holdings than its global counterparts, it would still be caught in the fallout. Declines were led Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion-Bank, and Bank of Nova Scotia, which all fell 1.2 percent. Looking ahead, Leitao said there was little data due this week that could shake the market's negative momentum, which has seen the TSX close lower for seven of the last eight sessions. Though he said Canadian existing home sales data due on Tuesday had the potential to surprise to the upside. "If we have another big number that goes along the same direction as the housing starts of last week, that could feed into the stronger employment numbers and may suggest that the Canadian economy is still very strong."
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