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CANADA STOCKS-TSX drops on record GDP contraction in March, fears of biggest economic slump

April 15 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell on Wednesday after data showed the domestic economy shrank a record 9% in March from February and as the central bank warned the coronavirus outbreak was set to trigger the biggest near-term economic downturn.

* At 10:14 a.m. ET (1414 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite index was down 261.62 points, or 1.83%, at 13,996.81.

* Statistics Canada said, in a flash estimate, the monthly decline in Canada’s gross domestic product in March would be the most since the series started in 1961 as the pandemic brought economic activity to virtual standstill.

* The Bank of Canada held interest rates steady at 0.25%, as expected, and suspended its regular economic forecasts, citing exceptional uncertainty over the outlook.

* The energy sector dropped 5.5%, as oil prices weakened on oversupply concerns.

* U.S. crude prices were down 1.3% a barrel, while Brent crude lost 4.9%.

* The financials sector slipped 3%. The industrials sector fell 1.8%.

* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 1.4% as gold futures fell 1.2% to $1,735.3 an ounce.

* On the TSX, 11 issues were higher, while 220 issues declined for a 20.00-to-1 ratio to the downside, with 37.30 million shares traded.

* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were shares of cannabis producer Aphria Inc, which jumped 10.6% after third quarter results showed company posted a profit compared to a year ago loss.

* Vermilion Energy fell 10.1%, the most on the TSX, followed by shares of Secure Energy Services, down 9.9%.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were shares in pot producers Hexo Corp, Aphria and Aurora Cannabis .

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

* Across all Canadian issues there were three new 52-week highs and no new low, with total volume of 61.03 million shares. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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