* TSX falls 62.48 points, or 0.53 percent, at 11,623.84
* Seven of 10 sectors weaker; energy weighs, golds support
* Index down 9 pct for the month, 12.6 pct for quarter
* Sharpest monthly decline since Oct 2008
By Trish Nixon
TORONTO, Sept 30 Toronto's main stock index fell on Friday, closing off its worst month and quarter in nearly three years, as a raft of disappointing data and the lack of a solution to Europe's debt crisis stoked fears of a global economic slowdown.
The index plummeted 12.6 percent in the quarter and 9 percent in September, its worst monthly slide since the height of the credit crunch in October 2008 and worst quarterly slide since the end of that year.
Stocks were battered by signs of a global economic slowdown and fears that a debt default by Greece could spark a credit shock similar to that caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.
"What's driving the Canadian economy and in particular the Canadian equity market at this particular point in time, no doubt, is a lack of visibility on the global macro scene," Paul Taylor, chief investment officer at BMO Harris Investment Management Inc, said on a conference call.
"The question is, is there a comprehensive plan that will emerge in the short to intermediate term related to the solvency of key sovereigns in euro land?"
Fears of a hard landing in China, the world's second largest economy, joined the witches' brew troubling investors after figures showed China's manufacturing sector shrank for the third month in a row. [ID:nL3E7KU097]
"China is the X-factor that the market is currently worried about," said Christophe Caspar, chief investment officer for Europe, Middle East and Asia, at Russell Investments.
"We're not talking about China collapsing, but growth in China of 6 percent versus the (current) 9 percent is big enough to put the world tipping into recession."
The Chinese data added to fears about slowing global demand and pressured commodity prices, which weighed on the resource-heavy TSX index. [O/R] [MET/L]
Suncor Energy (SU.TO) was the heaviest decliner on the TSX, falling 3.4 percent to C$26.76. Potash Corp (POT.TO) was down 3.5 percent at C$45.50, and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) lost 2.4 percent to C$30.77.
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended the session down 62.48 points, or 0.53 percent, at 11,623.84. Seven of the index's 10 main groups were lower.
Gold miners helped to curb losses, lifting the index's materials sector into positive territory as the price of bullion rose. The price of the metal posted its biggest quarterly gain this year even though it looked set to end September with a loss of more than 10 percent, its worst monthly performance since October 2008. [GOL/]
Goldcorp (G.TO) was the index's top gainer, rising 4 percent to $48.07, followed by Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), up 2.3 percent at $49.11.
The index lost more than C$170 billion of total market cap this quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data. Caspar said that he expected further volatility through to the end of the year, but that equity markets should not fall that much further given the current inexpensive levels.
"The key worry that the market has is politicians don't go fast enough in ring-fencing the problem," he said.
"Greece defaulting is basically a certainty. The question is how is it going to default. Is it going to be a messy default or an orderly default? The market is already pricing in an orderly default."
($1=$1.05 Canadian) (Editing by Peter Galloway and Jeffrey Hodgson)