* TSX down 278.61 points, or 2.01 pct, at 13,605.79
* All 10 main sectors lower
* China data, Spain debt downgrade stoke growth concerns (Updates with details, commentary)
By John McCrank
TORONTO, March 10 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index dropped for a fourth-straight session on Thursday in a broad based decline of 2 percent, battered by disappointing economic data out of China and debt concerns in Europe.
The energy and materials sectors led the slide, down 3.34 percent and 3.26 percent respectively, with oil and metal prices trending lower. [GOL/] [O/R] [MET/L]
Brent and U.S. crude oil prices both fell by more than $2 a barrel as investors worried that the euro zone debt crisis was resurfacing after Spain’s debt was downgraded by Moody’s, which cut Greece’s credit rating earlier this week. [ID:nLDE729023]
A surprise trade deficit for China in February also soured the mood of investors, raising questions about the pace of global growth. [ID:nTOE72903F]
“The rate of growth won’t be as dramatic, and that doesn’t do wonders for people who believe that oil and materials prices are going to go to the moon,” said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.
First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) fell 4.73 percent to C$106.63, while Silver Wheaton SLW.TO was down 6.17 percent at C$39.41.
Schwartz said that many investors are likely worried that the prices of commodities like oil and copper — both of which have hovered around record levels for an extended period — are getting too expensive and they may be stepping back and taking some profits.
“We’re doing the opposite,” he said. “We’ve just made orders to buy a large position in a mining company because they’re on sale — 25 percent off — some of these stocks are back to March or April 2010 prices, so we’re excited.”
At 10:30 a.m. (1530 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 278.61 points, or 2.01 percent, at 13,605.79. The index was at its lowest since Feb. 1 and all 10 main sectors were lower.
Elsewhere in the market, holiday travel operator Transat AT Inc TRZb.TO was down 23.05 percent at C$12.75 after it reported a wider quarterly loss. [ID:nL3E7EA1K7]
Linamar Corp (LNR.TO) shares were down 4.3 percent at C$20.46 despite the auto parts maker reporting market-beating results after the bell on Wednesday. [ID:nN09283444]
Aecon Group (ARE.TO) was one of just a handful of stocks in positive territory, up 0.32 percent at C$9.55, after Canaccord Genuity raised its price target on Canada’s biggest publicly listed construction company to C$13.00 from C$11.25.
$1=$1.98 Canadian Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson