Toronto's main stock index went for a dive Thursday, tracking global markets, after disappointing U.S. economic data fueled fears of a slowdown by the world's biggest economy.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell another 140.67 points, or 1.1%, at the opening bell to 12,273.19.
The Canadian dollar dipped below parity with its American neighbour, giving back 0.24 cents at 99.93 cents U.S.
Among the stocks to watch this morning, asset manager Sprott Inc. said its quarterly profit plunged 96% mainly due to weak precious metals prices that dragged down investments.
Oil giant Encana Corp. will take a final decision on the Kitimat LNG joint venture before the end of 2012, with the project's partners willing to offer up to 20% of the equity to potential gas buyers.
Oil and gas producer Ithaca Energy Inc. posted a slight fall in profit, and said it continued to be in discussions with parties interested in acquiring it.
Brigus Gold Corp. posted a fourth-quarter profit as higher average gold price offset lower sales volume.
On the economic beat, Statistics Canada came out this morning with two reports. One stated that the Industrial Product Price Index edged up 0.2% in February, powered by gains in fuel and metals. Another had the Raw Materials Price Index tailing off 0.5%, mostly due to mineral fuels.
The TSX Venture Exchange staggered 7.27 points to 1,542.98, while the Nasdaq Canada index was off 2.97 points at 406.43
All 14 Toronto subgroups were down to begin the day, weighed mostly by energy stocks, 1.4% to the bad, industrials, down 1.3%, and metals and mining stocks, flailing 1.2%.
In New York, stocks fell in early trading Thursday as a string of weak economic reports -- including disappointing jobless claims -- have been keeping investors sidelined.
The Dow Jones Industrials shed 68.57 points in the early going to 13,057.60.
The S&P 500 dipped 7.64 points to 1,397.90, while the Nasdaq plummeted 19.08 points to 3,085.88
Disappointing reports on durable goods orders, consumer confidence and home prices have dragged on domestic markets this week, while ongoing concerns about a growth slowdown in China have added pressure on world markets.
Best Buy's stock dropped after the company narrowly missed expectations and said it would close 50 stores.
Worthington fell short of expectations with its quarterly earnings of 27 cents U.S. per share on revenue of $580 million U.S.
Sears Holdings' stock rose after the New York Post reported that the retailer was shopping its Lands' End brand for $2 billion U.S.
Red Hat's stock jumped after the software maker reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations and a stock buyback of $133 million U.S.
Research in Motion will report results after the closing bell. The BlackBerry maker is expected to post earnings per share of 81 cents U.S. on $4.5 billion U.S. in revenue.
In matters economic, first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 24 fell to 359,000. The forecast was for 350,000, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com. But the jobless claims report was still at a four-year low.
U.S. gross domestic product -- the broadest reading of economic growth --increased at an annual rate of 3% in the fourth quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That was the third revision, and was in line with analysts' estimates.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury rose, dropping yields to 2.16% from 2.20% late Wednesday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery shed 29 cents to $105.04 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $2.00 to $1,660.20 U.S. an ounce.