CANADA STOCKS-European fears drive TSX to 23-month low
* TSX hits November 2009 low
* All 10 index sectors down sharply
* Index down 24 percent since 2011 highs (Updates with details, comments)
TORONTO, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock market index plunged to a 23-month low on Tuesday morning, pushing deeper into bear-market territory as fears over Europe's debt crisis and the possibility of a global recession sparked another selloff.
The TSX is down 19 percent since the start of the year and 24 percent from the 2011 high it reached in March. After a steep drop on Monday, all 10 index sectors were again sharply lower on Tuesday. Energy shares slid 3.5 percent, materials dropped 3.2 percent, and financials shed 2.5 percent.
"Maybe there's another 5 or 10 percent on the downside," said Gavin Graham, president at Graham Investment Strategy, noting the fall is likely to come in the next few weeks as the prospect of a near-term default by Greece becomes more imminent and anxiety over the possibility a major banking crisis in Europe intensifies. [MKTS/GLOB]
At 10:44 a.m. (1444 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 285.01 points, or 2.53 percent, at 10,966.83. Earlier, it dropped more than 3 percent to 10,848.19, its weakest level since November 2009.
Among the heaviest decliners were financial stocks, which traded in sympathy with battered European banks as Dexia (DEXI.BR) shares sank as much as 38 percent on top of their 10 percent fall on Monday due to worries about the Franco-Belgian bank's heavy exposure to Greece. [ID:nL5E7L40WD]
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) lost 3 percent to C$45.39, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) was down 3 percent at C$69.56, and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) was off 2.8 percent at C$49.69.
"The worse it gets, then the more likely it is that the (U.S.) authorities are going to accelerate their support measures," Graham said. He added that this could pave the way for a third round of monetary easing by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Helping to lift markets from their lows on Tuesday morning, Bernanke said the Fed is prepared to take further steps to help a fragile economic recovery held back by a weak job market and financial stresses in Europe. [ID:nN1E7930IZ]
"Maybe here comes QE3 because (Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke) will have political cover to do so if the market continues to slide."
($1=$1.06 Canadian) (Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Peter Galloway)
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