* TSX down 222.32 points, or 1.63 percent, at 13,419.74
* All 10 index groups lower
* Lowest close since Jan. 27 (Adds corporate earnings, details, comments)
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, May 11 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index took a beating on Wednesday, hitting its lowest close in 3-1/2 months, as signals that the Chinese economy might be cooling sent commodity prices tumbling.
Inflation in China eased in April and China’s industrial output growth was more than a full percentage point below expectations in the same month after a strong showing in March. The data helped push oil, gold and metal prices sharply lower. [ID:nL3E7GB0H2]
An unexpected rise in gasoline stocks also helped drive crude prices down more than 4 percent — the second big oil selloff in a week. Copper prices crumbled on the data from China, the world’s biggest metals consumer. Silver dropped 8 percent and helped drag gold lower as well. [O/R] [MET/L] [GOL/]
“The biggest thing is China overnight. There were some pretty high expectations ... some of the economic data was a bit weaker than expected. That’s disappointing markets in general,” said Youssef Zohny, a portfolio manager at Van Arbor Asset Management.
The Toronto index’s materials sector, which groups mining companies, fell a hefty 3.25 percent. Diversified miner Teck Resources TCKb.TO dropped 5.46 percent to C$45.50, Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) was down 3.88 percent at C$43.82, while Goldcorp (G.TO) slid 3.2 percent to C$46.05. [ID:nN11230867]
Oil and gas stocks, which have fallen roughly 7 percent over the past week and a half, were down 2.58 percent on Wednesday. The energy and materials groups combined have about a 50 percent weighting on the index.
Suncor Energy (SU.TO) led blue-chip decliners with a 3.13 percent retreat to C$39.31. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) fell 2.68 percent to C$40.24.
“Commodities have become more volatile over the last few weeks and that’s spilling over into equity markets. In general we’ve been seeing some de-risking over the last couple of weeks and today we’re seeing an accelerated version of that,” Zohny said.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE finished down 222.32 points, or 1.63 percent, at 13,419.74. The index has fallen in six of the last eight sessions and was its lowest close since Jan. 27.
All 10 of its main groups were lower.
“We’re heading into the summer months, so it’s not atypical to see people building cash positions prior to the summer. So we’ve got a little bit of a seasonal effect beginning to happen as well,” said Michael Sprung, president at Sprung & Co Investment Counsel.
Ivanhoe Energy IE.TO sank 5.67 percent to C$2.33 after the oil producer reported a bigger quarterly loss. [ID:nL3E7GB2QV]
Fertilizer maker Agrium AGU.TO, which completed the sale of the majority of the commodity management businesses of Australia’s AWB to Cargill Inc for $677 million, fell 2.7 percent to C$78.19. [ID:nN11183367]
Enbridge (ENB.TO), which reported a 15 percent jump in first-quarter profit and said it is eyeing international acquisitions, saw its shares fall 1.23 percent to C$60.20. [ID:nN10111847]
($1=$0.96 Canadian) (Editing by Peter Galloway)