Toronto's main stock index fell to a three-week low on Thursday, as recent mixed U.S. economic data and worries about a slowdown in China raised investor concern about the global economic outlook.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index lost another 179.11 points, or 1.4%, to greet noon at 12,234.75.
The Canadian dollar was at parity with its American neighbour, despite giving back 0.15 cents at 100.02 cents U.S.
Big stocks on the downside included Potash Corp, down 1.5% at $45.36, and Suncor Energy, which fell 1.6% to $31.97. Royal Bank of Canada sank 1.2% to $58.08. The key financial, energy and materials sectors, which comprise some 70% of the broader index, were all lower.
In company news, asset manager Sprott Inc, down 3.8% at $5.80, said its quarterly profit plunged 96% mainly due to weak precious metals prices that dragged down investments.
Ithaca Energy Inc gained 0.7% to $3.07 and posted a slight decline in profit. The oil and gas producer said it continued to be in discussions with parties interested in acquiring it.
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 19.60 points to 1,530.65, while the Nasdaq Canada index was off 2.92 points at 406.48
All 14 Toronto subgroups were down by midday, weighed mostly by energy stocks, 2.1% to the bad, materials and gold, each off 1.5%.
In New York, stocks fell Thursday as a string of weak economic reports -- including jobless claims that fell below expectations -- have been keeping investors sidelined.
The Dow Jones Industrials shed 71.02 points by noon ET to 13,055.20.
The S&P 500 dipped 12.62 points to 1,392.92, while the Nasdaq plummeted 32.28 points to 3,072.68
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.
Most large financial stocks dropped more than 1% Thursday, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs
While stocks are on track for a third day of losses, the initial public offering market has been buoyant and is on track for a record week. Of the two companies that are debuting Thursday,
Millenial Media's shares nearly doubled. T-shirt maker Cafe Press moved up roughly 15% after it started trading. Both companies priced above their initial trading range.
Best Buy's stock dropped after the company narrowly missed expectations and said it would close 50 stores.
Worthington fell short of expectations with quarterly earnings of 27 cents 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 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 $2.09 to $103.32 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $2.00 to $1,660.20 an ounce.