CANADA STOCKS-Soft U.S. data triggers TSX's biggest drop of the year

Wed Apr 3, 2013 3:35pm EDT
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* TSX falls 217.51 points, or 1.72 percent, to 12,464.57
    * All 10 main index sectors decline
    * CP Rail train derails; shares off 2.3 percent
    * TD names new CEO; shares down
    * Manulife slips 3 percent after executives in Asia leave

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, April 3 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index
tumbled nearly 2 percent on Wednesday, recording its biggest
percentage decline in more than nine months, as sluggish U.S.
economic data dampened hopes for a smooth recovery and caused
declines in all major sectors.
    The selloff erased nearly all the gains the index has made
since the start of the year and took it to its lowest point in
more than three months.
    An industry report showed the pace of growth in the U.S.
services sector slowed in March to the lowest level in seven
months as new orders and employment measures pulled back.
    "It's a broad selloff based on fear that there isn't going
to be a rebound anytime soon," said Fred Ketchen, director of
equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
    "People are nervous," he added. "They're saying, 'I'm going
to run for the hills and I'm going to take my money with me.'" 
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was down 217.51 points, or 1.72 percent, at 12,464.57
in late afternoon trade, after dropping to 12,390.79, its lowest
point since Dec. 31, 2012.
    It was the biggest percentage drop for the index so far this
year and its largest one-day fall since June 21, 2012.
    "I think the market is ahead of where the fundamentals would
put it," said Michael Sprung, president of Sprung Investment
Management. "There's likely to be a correction, and this could
be the beginning of it."
    The benchmark Canadian index, falling for the third straight
session, has had a wobbly climb since its lows in November, and
it has badly trailed the record runs of its U.S. peers.
    All of the 10 sectors of the index were in the red.
    Financials, the index's weightiest sector, lost 1.4 percent.
Royal Bank of Canada declined 1.4 percent to C$61.35.
    Shares of Manulife Financial Corp were down almost
3 percent at C$14.63 after news the insurer was losing two of
its top executives in Asia. 
    In other company news, Toronto-Dominion Bank said
Chief Executive Ed Clark plans to retire in late 2014, and
Bharat Masrani, group head of U.S. personal and commercial
banking, will succeed him. TD shares were down 1.2 percent at
    Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd shares were down 2.3
percent C$123.41. The company said early estimates are that
about four barrels of crude oil were spilled when one of its
trains derailed in northern Ontario. 
    The energy group gave back 2.9 percent. Suncor Energy Inc
 slipped 2.7 percent to C$30.35. 
    The materials sector, which includes miners, fell 3.2
    Shares of gold producers slumped 4.5 percent, extending this
year's dramatic decline. The group is down 23 percent since the
start of the year. 
    The price of bullion fell 1.5 percent, hitting a nine-month
low. Barrick Gold Corp lost 4.5 percent to C$27.41.