* TSX down 44.75 points, or 0.31 percent, at 14,264.66
* Six of the 10 main index sectors decline
* Canadian Natural, Suncor drive weakness
TORONTO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index eased on Monday as a decline in oil prices and concerns about the Chinese economy weighed on energy shares, which resumed their downward trend.
The Chinese premier said the country’s economy faces significant downward pressure this year. Investors were also awaiting China’s fourth-quarter gross domestic product report, due on Tuesday.
The benchmark TSX is down about 2.5 percent this year. The plunge in oil prices over the past six months, triggered by worries about excess supply, has been the biggest drag on both energy shares and Canada’s benchmark equities index.
Oil prices were below the $50 mark on Monday, and they have lost about 55 percent of their value since June.
“We’re in a period of high volatility and I think it’s, for most people, unbearable,” said Benoit Gervais, senior vice president and portfolio manager at Mackenzie Investments.
“Investors are saying, ‘sure, it’s down a lot, I should probably buy some, but it could be down another 20 percent next week. So I’m going to wait.’”
Gervais said he expects the oil price to stabilize sometime this year, but that it isn’t clear when that will happen.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 44.75 points, or 0.31 percent, at 14,264.66. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were trading lower.
Shares of energy producers dropped 1.8 percent. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd shed 3.2 percent to C$34.38, and Suncor Energy Inc lost 1.3 percent to C$35.53.
Financials, the index’s most heavily weighted sector, climbed slightly. Toronto-Dominion Bank advanced 0.3 percent to C$50.34, and Royal Bank of Canada gained 0.2 percent to C$75.66.
$1=$1.20 Canadian Editing by Peter Galloway
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