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

Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:50pm EDT
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* TSX closes down 0.5 percent at 12,040.01

* Nine out of 10 main sectors end lower

* Resource issues lead retreat (Adds details, quotes)

By Claire Sibonney

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

Both oil and natural gas prices weakened, sending the TSX's energy group down 0.9 percent. April crude fell 0,88 percent to $82.20 a barrel, while gas futures hit multi-month lows after a U.S. government report showed an unexpectedly light weekly inventory draw.

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

"It seems like a very measured sort of decline," said Elvis Picardo, an 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.   Continued...