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Canada’s benchmark index records 340-point slide Wednesday, the year’s biggest drop, and all 10 sectors on the main bourse are in widespread retreat.

MARK BLINCH/Reuters

Canada's benchmark index is in a severe slump just about any way you look at it. Wednesday's 340-point slide marks the year's biggest, but the number of triple-digit dips now adds up to six over the past 10 trading days.

The overall decline since Nov. 21 comes to 8.3 per cent, erasing the entire rebound since Oct. 15 and pushing the S&P/TSX composite index back into correction territory.

Energy stocks are the leading the way down, following the price of crude oil. These stocks fell another 4.9 per cent on Wednesday, to a 2 1/2-year low. The sector has fallen more than 30 per cent since August and some companies are writhing in pain: Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. is down 53 per cent this year and trading at a 10-year low.

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But the pain is spreading well beyond energy. All 10 sectors within the index fell in a widespread retreat in a sell-off that is being driven by economic concerns in China and political worries in Greece.

"Clearly there are new clouds on the horizon," said Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns. "The last thing we need is for the European crisis to flare up again, and it looks as though we are getting the last thing we need."

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