Canadian stocks stumbled Thursday, extending losses into a third session, amid disappointing U.S. jobless-claims data, weaker commodity prices, and concerns over the Chinese and European economic outlook.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index lost another 74.50 points, off their lows of the day, to close at 12,339.36.
The Canadian dollar climbed back above parity with its American neighbour, picking up 0.16 cents at 100.33 cents U.S.
Weaker commodity prices and persistent concerns over China's economic outlook sank equities in the energy and mining sectors. Energy stocks were pressured by a 20.6% slump in Birchcliff Energy Ltd. shares, which closed at $7.00.
The oil and gas company said Thursday it has terminated its corporate-sale process, since it did not receive an acceptable offer reflecting its value and will instead focus on expanding its resource base.
Elsewhere in the energy sector, Encana Corp. shares dropped 2.2% to $19.71 and Suncor Energy Inc. shares fell three cents to $32.45.
The metals and mining sector was pressured by falling gold prices. Lundin Mining Corp. shares fell 1.3% to $4.43, but Teck Resources Ltd. shares poked ahead 0.4% to $34.70.
Among gold producers, Avion Gold Corp. shares unchanged at $1.13 and Goldcorp Inc. shares were 0.3% lower to $44.31.
Industrials shed some of their strength, led by a 0.8% decrease in Finning International Inc. shares to $27.28. Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier Inc. shed a penny to $4.17.
Shares of Canada's big-five banks were all in the red. Royal Bank of Canada shares lost 1.4% to $57.98 and Toronto-Dominion Bank shares were down 0.8% to $84.39.
Ahead of its quarterly report on Thursday evening, shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. edged up 0.2% to $13.69.
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 shaved off 0.49 points to 1,549.76, while the Nasdaq Canada index regained 1.96 points at 411.36
In all, 10 of the 14 Toronto subgroups were down on the session, weighed mostly by utility and financials, each down 1%, and energy issues, giving back 0.9%.
The four gainers were led by metals and mining, up 1.4%, global base metals, 1.3% higher, and health-care, 0.4% stronger.
In New York, stocks rebounded a bit in later trading Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrials gained 19.61 points to close at 13,145.80, despite floundering much of the day.
The S&P 500 dipped 2.25 points to 1,403.29, while the Nasdaq tailed off 9.60 points to 3,095.36
All three indexes are up more than 10% in 2012. But investors are continuing to seek economic reports that beat expectations in order to justify that run up.
On Thursday the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits only narrowly missed economists' forecasts, but that still pushed stocks lower.
The week has been filled with a string of disappointing economic numbers on durable goods orders, consumer confidence and home prices. Ongoing concerns about a growth slowdown in China have added pressure on world markets.
Most large financial stocks dropped more than 2% Thursday, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs
While stocks are suffering, the initial public offering market has been buoyant and is set to have a record week.
Two of the three companies that debuted Thursday had sharp spikes in their stock prices.
Millennial Media's shares nearly doubled, and T-shirt maker Cafe Press moved up roughly 15% after it started trading. Both companies priced above their initial trading range. Yet Merrimack Pharmaceuticals dropped 15% after it started trading.
Best Buy's stock dropped after the company narrowly missed expectations and said it would close 50 stores.
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 $2.27 to $103.14 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $2.00 to $1,660.20 U.S. an ounce.