CANADA STOCKS-TSX drops on weak resources as China weighs

Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:49am EDT
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* TSX off 53.13 points, or 0.47 pct, at 12,444.49

* Seven of 10 main sectors lower

* Viterra rises 3.6 pct on takeover speculation

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - Toronto's resource-heavy main stock index fell on Monday morning as Chinese economic data weighed on oil and metals prices, pressuring the market's key mining and energy sectors.

Leading names on the downside included oil companies Canadian Natural Resources, down 2.1 percent at C$34.77, and Suncor Energy, which fell 1.4 percent to C$33.75. Barrick Gold shed 0.8 percent at C$45.09, while Teck Resources fell 1.6 percent to C$35.96

China's trade balance plunged $31.5 billion into the red in February as imports swamped exports to leave the largest deficit in at least a decade and fuel concerns about the extent to which frail foreign demand drove the drop.

"The markets are fidgety since the declaration of the lowering of the growth target," said John Ing, president of Maison Placements Canada. Earlier this month, China cut its economic growth target to the lowest level in eight years, sending commodity markets sharply lower on demand worries.   Continued...