TSX falls on signs of economic duress from coronavirus outbreak

(Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index fell on Wednesday after data showed manufacturing activity in March hit a nine-year low in some of the clearest evidence yet of the domestic economic damage from the spreading coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: The Art Deco facade of the original Toronto Stock Exchange building is seen on Bay Street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada January 23, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

* The IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ index (PMI), fell to a seasonally adjusted 46.1 in March, the lowest in data going back to October 2010. A reading below 50 shows contraction in the sector.

* Adding to the alarm was a rising death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Canada, which jumped by 35% to 89 in less than a day on Tuesday, and the major province of Quebec said it was running low on key medical equipment.

* At 9:54 a.m. ET (1354 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 285.38 points, or 2.13%, at 13,093.37.

* Ten of the index's 11 major sectors were trading lower, with only the material sector .GSPTTMT trading 0.4% higher.

* Mounting fears that the near-global lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic would spark a deep economic downturn prompted safe-haven buying of gold, shoring up the yellow metal’s prices. [GOL/]

* The energy sector .SPTTEN fell 1% as oil prices dropped after a report showed a big rise in U.S. inventories and a widening rift within OPEC heightened oversupply concerns. [O/R]

* U.S. crude CLc1 prices were down 0.5% a barrel, while Brent crude LCOc1 lost 4.3%.

* On the TSX, 41 issues were higher, while 188 issues declined for a 4.59-to-1 ratio to the downside, with 46.18 million shares traded.

* The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was Corus Entertainment CJRb.TO, which jumped 9.6%, after reporting better-than-expected profit during the second quarter.

* Blackberry Ltd BB.TO fell 14%, the most on the TSX, after reporting quarterly results.

* Canadian dollar-store operator Dollarama Inc DOL.TO said it had seen a surge in current-quarter sales as consumers stocked up on everyday essentials fearing lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, but suspended its current fiscal-year forecast. Its shares fell 2%.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were those of Suncor Energy SU.TO, Canadian Natural Resources CNQ.TO and Bank of Nova Scotia BNS.TO.

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

* Across all Canadian issues there were one new 52-week high and eight new lows, with total volume of 72.37 million shares.

Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel