CANADA STOCKS-Energy selloff fuels biggest TSX drop in almost 18 months

Mon Dec 8, 2014 5:09pm EST
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* TSX down 329.53 points, or 2.28 percent, at 14,144.17

* Nine of 10 main index sectors decline

* Energy shares tumble 6.5 percent (Adds portfolio manager comment, updates prices)

By John Tilak and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index recorded its biggest single-day percentage drop in nearly 18 months on Monday as a selloff in oil sent shares of energy producers tumbling and raised fears about a wholesale retreat from Canadian equities.

With world oil prices showing no signs of slowing their decline to five-year lows, Canada's large number of energy stocks were among the hardest hit but were by no means the only ones.

They were joined by banks, part of the single largest constituent of the index, and almost every major sector ended in the red. The measures for market volatility surged about 20 percent.

The benchmark TSX index slumped to a seven-week low and has fallen nearly 10 percent since hitting a record high in September.

"It's a sell on a global basis. If you're a money manager in New York or London, right now you're saying 'Sell Canada'," said Bill Harris, portfolio manager at Avenue Investment Management.   Continued...