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CANADA STOCKS-TSX drops on oil plunge as coronavirus hits demand

(Updates prices)

March 30 (Reuters) - Energy stocks led Canada’s main stock index lower on Monday as oil prices plunged on heightened fears that coronavirus-driven shutdowns globally could last months and hit demand for fuel.

* Six of the index’s 11 major sectors were lower, led by the energy sector which dropped 4.6%.

* U.S. crude prices were down 5.8% a barrel, while Brent crude lost 7.7%.

* At 9:42 a.m. ET (1342 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 98.28 points, or 0.77%, at 12,589.46.

* On Friday, Canada said it would cover 75% of wages for small businesses and the Bank of Canada cut its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 0.25%, its lowest level in a decade, as officials sought to limit layoffs and bolster an economy hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

* The financials sector slipped 1.5%. The industrials sector rose 0.2%.

* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 1.4% as gold prices gained.

* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were shares of gold miners with NovaGold Resources rising 5.1% and Kinross Gold adding 4.2%.

* On the TSX, 56 issues were higher, while 173 issues declined for a 3.09-to-1 ratio to the downside, with 35.29 million shares traded.

* Hexo Corp fell 17%, the most on the TSX, after the company posted second-quarter results.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were those of Bombardier, Aurora Cannabis and Bank of Nova Scotia.

* The TSX posted no new 52-week high and seven new lows.

* Across all Canadian issues there were no new 52-week high and 16 new lows, with total volume of 50.86 million shares. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Amy Caren Daniel)

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