*TSX down 197.74 points at 12,862.82
*All 10 index sectors weaker, led by energy (Updates with details, commentary)
By Claire Sibonney
TORONTO, June 23 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock market index fell sharply on Thursday morning as concerns over the global economy intensified and prompted investors to head for the exits.
Prices for oil, base metals and other commodities fell following data that showed higher-than-expected U.S. jobless claims last week, slowing private sector activity in Europe, and a barely expanding factory sector in China. [O/R] [MET/L]
The index’s three most influential sectors were steeply lower. Energy stocks skidded 2.4 percent, materials dropped 1.9 percent and financials lost 1.2 percent.
Among the heaviest decliners, Suncor Energy (SU.TO) fell 2.4 percent to C$36.64, fellow oil company Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) dropped 3.2 percent to C$37.88, and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) declined 1.7 percent to C$78.33.
The sell-off followed a move by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday to cut its growth forecast for the world’s biggest economy. [nN1E75K22F]
Investors were also watching to see what would happen at a European Union summit at which leaders will apply more pressure on Greece to adopt deeply unpopular austerity measures in return for fresh funds to avert a sovereign default that could shake the global economy. [nLDE75M0FA]
The Greek government survived a parliamentary vote of confidence earlier this week, which was seen as a first step toward a debt deal.
“We had the bounce yesterday after (Greece) finally managed to pass the vote of confidence but all that means is they can actually go ahead and try and get the austerity measures through, which may or may not occur,” said Gavin Graham, president of Graham Investment Strategy.
“When you combine that with the news coming out today on manufacturing that’s not good news.”
At 10:33 a.m. (1433 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 197.74 points, or 1.5 percent at 12,852.82, with all 10 sectors weaker.
On the upside, TMX Group (X.TO) rose 2.3 percent to C$45.27.
TMX was the top advancer on the index after a consortium of Canadian banks and pension funds raised its hostile takeover bid for the operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday with a cash-and-stock proposal that nudged above a friendly takeover bid from London Stock Exchange, which also sweetened its offer on Wednesday. [nN1E75L17E]
Husky Energy Inc (HSE.TO) was a top decliner, plunging more than 5 percent to C$26.68 after Canada’s No. 3 integrated oil company, said on Wednesday it will raise C$1.2 billion ($1.24 billion) through public and private share offerings to finance its production growth plans. [nN1E75L1ZY]
($1=$0.98 Canadian) (Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway)