CANADA STOCKS-TSX falls as energy drop leads broad selloff

Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:58pm EST
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* Toronto, TSX Venture exchanges open after Wednesday halt

* Energy leads TSX lower as oil falls 8 percent

* Nine of 10 subgroups lower (Adds official close, comment, details)

By Cameron French

TORONTO Dec 18 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index fell nearly 300 points on Thursday as plunging oil prices hammered energy issues, while materials and financial stocks felt the sting of deepening worries about the health of the global economy.

With the exchange shut down on Wednesday due to technical problems, the energy and materials sectors suffered from pent-up demand to sell.

Oil prices dropped 8 percent -- well below $40 a barrel -- on slumping demand and swelling U.S. inventories, building on a 7 percent drop from the previous day that had not been factored into Toronto-listed stocks.

The energy sector dropped 7.2 percent, while materials issues retreated 4.7 percent as gold stocks on other exchanges were also weaker on Wednesday.

Oil and gas producer Nexen NXY.TO dropped 8 percent to C$20.58, while Goldcorp dropped 12.4 percent to C$34.49.   Continued...