CANADA STOCKS-TSX falls as China, Greece fears rattle market

Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:04pm EDT
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* TSX closes down 0.5 percent at 12,040.01

* Nine out of 10 sectors lower

By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO, March 18 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock market index closed moderately lower on Thursday as concerns about tighter credit in China and doubts about an aid plan for debt-stricken Greece pressured commodity prices.

Along with falling oil prices, natural gas futures also hit multi-month lows after a U.S. government report showed an unexpectedly light weekly inventory draw, sending the index's energy group down 0.9 percent.

Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO, the country's biggest independent oil explorer, fell 1.3 percent to C$73.73, while EnCana Corp ECA.TO dropped 1.8 percent to C$32.12.

"It seems like a very measured sort of decline," said Elvis Picardo, analyst and strategist at Global Securities in Vancouver.

"There's absolutely no sense of panic. It's comforting to see the TSX is still managing to hold above the 12,000 mark," he added. The index touched a 17-month high of 12,122.47 on Wednesday.

Gold-mining issues also declined despite flight-to-quality buying of bullion. Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO, the world's biggest gold producer, dropped 0.6 percent to C$40.32, while Goldcorp Inc G.TO fell 1.1 percent to C$39.82.   Continued...