TSX posts biggest drop in three weeks as oil firms tumble

(Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index slumped on Wednesday, pulled lower by energy shares that fell alongside the price of oil and as Valeant Pharmaceuticals tumbled after the company gave a weaker-than-expected revenue forecast.

FILE PHOTO: A sign board displaying Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) stock information is seen in Toronto June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

* The sell-off on the Toronto market accelerated into the closing bell, following Wall Street lower and making for its biggest decline in nearly three weeks.

* Worries over higher interest rates dragged the benchmark S&P 500 lower for the second day in a row after new U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell struck a bullish tone on the strength of the economy on Tuesday.

* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended down 228.47 points, or 1.46 percent, at 15,442.68.

* The energy sector, which accounts for about a third of the index, retreated 3.4 percent as oil prices fell after data showed a surprise drop in U.S. crude production in December. U.S. crude settled down $1.37 at $61.64 a barrel. [O/R]

* Suncor Energy was one of the biggest drags on the index, shedding 3.2 percent to C$42.24, while Canadian Natural Resources lost 4.1 percent to C$39.75.

* Valeant slumped 11.5 percent to C$21.01 after the drugmaker gave a disappointing outlook for 2018, with several of its major drugs facing more competition from generics.

* Financial shares also dragged the index lower, down 1.3 percent. Royal Bank of Canada fell 1.7 percent to C$101.09, and Toronto-Dominion Bank lost 1.7 percent to C$74.00.

* The TSX posted five new 52-week highs and 12 new lows. Across all Canadian issues, there were 18 new 52-week highs and 32 new lows.

* Aurora Cannabis was among the most actively traded stocks by volume, up 5.2 percent at $10.40. Volume on the TSX index was 260.27 million shares.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr in Ottawa; Editing by Peter Cooney