U.S., China data drag TSX to one-month low

By John Tilak

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index dropped to a one-month low on Monday as weak economic data from China and the United States made investors more circumspect about the global economic recovery, sending shares in every major sector lower.

A report showed that the U.S. manufacturing industry grew at a much slower pace in January as new order growth plunged by the most in 33 years, pulling overall factory activity to an eight-month low.

Separate data indicated Chinese service sector growth slowed, hitting a five-year low, with the country's factory sector weak in January. Investors have been nervous about the prospects for a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy, a concern that has been weighing on other emerging markets.

Upbeat signals out of Europe failed to offset the negative sentiment. Euro zone business surveys indicated that factories recorded their strongest month since mid-2011 in January, helped by improved hiring and a rebound in Germany.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's benchmark index, which recorded a monthly gain in January, was down for a second straight session.

Monday's drop was among the benchmark index's sharpest declines in months and took the TSX to negative territory for the year.

"The conventional signal is one of caution. Investor confidence is desperately seeking for anything positive," said Adrian Mastracci, portfolio manager at KCM Wealth Management. "But every time investors see volatility, they head to the sidelines.

"We don't know whether the global growth is for real or slipping," he added. "Things like volatility, anxiety and jitters are climbing."

Mastracci, who sees the Canadian market's performance tied closely to the health of the U.S. economy, said investors should use the dip to pick away at quality assets.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index <.GSPTSE> closed down 208.74 points, or 1.52 percent, at 13,486.20, after falling to as low as 13,450.31, its weakest level since December 24.

All of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red.

Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, gave back 1.3 percent. Manulife Financial Corp lost 4.5 percent to C$19.62 and had the biggest negative influence on the index. Royal Bank of Canada fell 0.6 percent to C$68.50.

A fall in the price of oil weighed on energy shares. Suncor Energy Inc shed 2.6 percent to C$35.64, and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd declined 1 percent to C$36.15.

The materials sector, which includes mining stocks, slipped 1 percent.

Teck, whose shares fell 1.9 percent to C$26.29, said it was investigating another spill at its Trail smelting complex in British Columbia. It said it does not expect the incident to have a long-term impact on fish or the environment.

In other corporate news, BCE Inc said 22,421 small business customers' user names and passwords were posted online over the weekend after an unnamed third-party supplier was hacked. The stock shed 1.5 percent to C$46.06.

(Editing by Peter Galloway and David Gregorio)

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