March 2, 2009 / 6:09 PM / 10 years ago

CANADA STOCKS-TSX slumps as oil, GDP data, AIG weigh

* TSX down 5.62 percent at 7,666.84

* All 10 main sectors lower

* Energy down 8.4 pct, financials sag 6.2 pct

* Canada’s Q4 GDP contracts, worst performance since ‘91 (Recasts, adds quote, update figures)

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 2 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index fell more than 6 percent on Monday, pulled lower by weaker oil prices, worries over the global financial system and data showing Canada was in the midst of a recession.

The Toronto Stock Exchange, which logged its steepest intraday percentage loss in three months, followed a global trend that saw world stocks tumble [ID:MKTS/GLOB] as big U.S. insurer American International Group (AIG.N) posted a $61.7 billion quarterly loss and took another multibillion-dollar lifeline from Washington. [ID:nL2130432]

The grim AIG results and broader concern about the health of the U.S. banking sector weighed heavily on investor confidence, which spilled over into Canada and helped drag the TSX financials sector down 6.2 percent.

“Investors are saying when does it stop, how much further does this go, how much further does it cost us, can these entities still survive even with government assistance,” said Gareth Watson, Canadian Equity Advisor at ScotiaMcLeod.

“It’s more the market questioning the current situation among the financials and its future.”

Among financials, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) fell 5.3 percent to C$29.28, while Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) dropped 10.4 percent to C$11.56.

At 12:23 p.m., (1723 GMT), the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 456.18 points, or 5.62 percent, at 7,666.84, with all 10 of its main groups lower. At one point, it fell as much as 6.3 percent, its steepest intraday percentage loss since Dec. 1, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“There’s no confidence out there in the market place,” added Watson.

The TSX energy sector dropped 8.4 percent as crude prices fell below $41 a barrel on concerns about the deteriorating global economy.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) dropped 9.8 percent to C$23.81 and EnCana Corp (ECA.TO) fell 7.2 percent to C$46.61.

Materials slumped 4.1 percent with Potash Corp of Saskatchewan POT.TO down 8.6 percent at C$97.56.

Analysts also said weak Canadian GDP data for the fourth quarter added to the negative tone.

Statistics Canada said before markets opened that the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 3.4 percent in the quarter, the worst performance since the first quarter of 1991, though it was slightly better than market expectations of a 3.6 percent downturn. [ID:nN02254034]

$1=$1.29 Canadian Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Rob Wilson

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