CANADA STOCKS- TSX drops as U.S. gridlock drags on

* TSX falls 49.74 points, or 0.39 percent, to 12,789.26
    * Trading volumes are sluggish
    * Eight of 10 main sectors decline
    * Suncor has biggest negative influence on market
    * Takeover target BlackBerry drops about 3 percent

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index slipped
on Thursday as a U.S. government shutdown dragged into a third
day, offsetting positive economic data from China and weighing
on most major sectors.
    Investors also had an eye on BlackBerry, which is
the focus of a $4.7 billion bid from a consortium led by Fairfax
Financial. Shares of the smartphone maker shed nearly 3
    Data showed rising demand caused activity in China's
services sector to expand at the fastest pace in six months in
September but failed to lift sentiment. 
    The focus of the market remained the U.S. government
shutdown, which highlighted the political gridlock in Washington
over the debt crisis and the uncertainty investors are facing as
no immediate resolution seemed in sight. 
    "Who knows what's going to happen or how long it's going to
drag out," said Sal Masionis, stockbroker at Brant Securities.
"You just stay away and do nothing, and have a little cash on
the side."
    Investor confidence in Canada and the United States has
taken a beating, he said, adding that the uncertainty could drag
on until the end of the month.
    Volumes on the benchmark Canadian index were sluggish. About
56 million shares changed hands on Thursday at mid-morning,
compared with an average daily volume of 304 million shares in
September, according to market operator TMX Group.
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 was down 49.74 points, or 0.39 percent, at 12,789.26.
    The TSX could lose ground before the end of the year due to
the U.S. debt and budget troubles, Masionis said. 
    Eight of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on
    Shares of energy producers fell 0.7 percent, weighing the
most of any major sector. 
    Suncor Energy Inc lost 1.1 percent to C$36.40 and
had the biggest negative influence on the market. Canadian
Natural Resources Ltd gave back 0.3 percent to C$32.13.
    The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, slipped
0.3 percent despite small gains made by gold stocks. Potash Corp
 was down 0.9 percent at C$33.61, and Teck Resources Ltd
 declined 0.8 percent to C$27.67.
    BlackBerry slipped to C$8.03, taking the information
technology sector down 1.3 percent.