CANADA STOCKS-TSX hits 2012 low after soft China data
* TSX falls 84.78 pts, or 0.7 pct, to 11,933.72 * Lowest level since December * Energy issues pull index lower * Soft China import data hurts commodities By Jon Cook TORONTO, April 10 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index tumbled to its lowest level this year on Tuesday as energy issues were hurt by soft import data from China that raised global growth fears, while financials slumped after fresh signs of stress in the euro zone debt market. Data showed Chinese imports undershot expectations, growing 5.3 percent on the year in March - consistent with other data suggesting soggy domestic demand in the first quarter of the year. The Chinese figures came on the heels of last week's disappointing U.S. jobs report and heightened anxiety among investors about a slowdown in the world's top two economies. "It adds to the uneasiness in the markets," said Carlos Leitao, chief economist at Laurentian Bank Securities. "What could calm the markets down would be something a little stronger from China, but we're still waiting for that." Brent crude oil sagged below $122 a barrel, dragging down Canadian energy issues which tumbled more than 1 percent to lead the main index lower. Losses were led by Suncor Energy, which slid 2.5 percent to C$29.53, Enbridge, down 1.2 percent to C$38.95 and TransCanada Corporation, down 0.8 percent to C$42.45. At 11:40 a.m. (1540 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 84.78 points, or 0.7 percent, to 11,933.72. It was its lowest level since December 30. "There's this sneaky feeling that perhaps in March the markets were too optimistic in their assessment of the U.S. economic recovery and the non-farm payrolls on Friday kind of knocked that down and now we're trying to re-establish some sort of a footing," said Leitao. Europe's debt woes resurfaced after Spanish and Italian yields rose, as the U.S. jobs numbers increased concerns about the impact a weaker U.S. economy may have on euro zone growth, especially in the region's weaker economies. Canadian financial shares dipped 0.1 percent, as Toronto-Dominion Bank shares fell 0.3 percent to C$83. Industrial issues also weighed, as shares of Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway fell 0.9 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively on Tuesday after the latest industry data indicated a slight North American rail traffic decline on the back of weakness in coal and agricultural product shipments. Materials remained slightly above water, up 0.1 percent as gold prices edged up on the hope that the sluggish U.S. employment market could fuel further asset purchases, or quantitative easing, by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Top gold producer Barrick Gold and No. 2 gold miner, Goldcorp, rose 0.5 percent to C$41.01 and C$41.14 respectively.
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