TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell 1 percent on Monday, its ninth straight decline, as energy stocks slumped on the back of another plunge for crude oil, pushing the index deeper into bear market territory.
Oil prices CLc1 LCOc1 fell 6 percent to new 12-year lows after a further decline in China's blue chip stocks and a surge in overnight interest rates for the yuan heightened fears about the outlook for demand in the world's second-largest economy. [O/R]
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 126.20 points, or 1.01 percent, at 12,319.25. It has lost more than 20 percent, the definition of a bear market, since an all-time high in September 2014.
Allan Small, a senior investment advisor at HollisWealth, said investors were spooked by the combination of China's troubles, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a recent North Korean nuclear test.
"This fear factor that's taking over the world really, from Asia to Europe to Canada and the United States, that's the problem," he said.
Suncor said on Friday it had extended its hostile bid for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd COS.TO until Jan. 27.
The energy group retreated 4 percent and is at its weakest since 2003 as a brutal new-year selloff in oil markets quickened.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 3.7 percent as copper prices CMCU3 hit their lowest since 2009. [MET/L] First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) declined 9.4 percent to C$3.84.
There were almost four decliners for every gainer on the index, with 51 stocks hitting new 52-week lows.
"For me, it's an opportunity to buy good quality names, some of them paying fantastic dividends," Small said. "I have been a selective buyer over the course of the last few trading days."
Lower oil and other commodity prices have caused business sentiment in Canada to deteriorate over the last three months, the Bank of Canada said.
Canadian housing starts fell more than expected in December from a month earlier as construction of multiple units, typically condominiums, dropped sharply, the national housing agency said.
Goldcorp Inc (G.TO) shares fell 5 percent to C$16.80. The miner's incoming chief executive said the company will increasingly have to look outside the Americas for large-scale assets as these become ever harder to find.
Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and James Dalgleish