Canadian stocks fell Monday, with materials and mining stocks leading the decline, on political uncertainty out of Europe.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index jettisoned 158.18 points, or 1.3%, to end Monday's trading day at 11,989.10
The Canadian dollar recouped 0.04 cents, to 100.90 cents U.S.
Shares of Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1.7% to $39.29, while Goldcorp Inc. declined 3.4% to $39.64.
Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan shares declined 2.9% to $42.35, and Teck Resources Ltd. shares fell 3.6% to $35.35.
Canadian markets joined their U.S. and European counterparts in trading lower Monday after French presidential challenger François Hollande pulled ahead of incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in the first round of elections. Also, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet resigned after budget talks failed over the weekend.
Shares of Royal Bank of Canada, the heaviest weighted stock on the TSX, declined 1.2% to $56.47, after Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the bank to a buy from neutral on the belief it is well positioned to benefit from strong trading in the second quarter with possible upside earnings surprises from its capital markets unit.
In comparison, shares of Toronto-Dominion Bank declined 1.5% to $82.71, and Bank of Nova Scotia subsided 0.9% to $54.25.
Shares of Thomson Reuters Corp. fell 1.4% to $28.24, after the media giant said it was selling its health-care data business to Veritas Capital for $1.25 billion.
Other notable decliners Monday included First Quantum Minerals Ltd., off 5.2% to $19.85, Lundin Mining Corp., down 6% to $4.40, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., off 6.9% to $11.78, and Eldorado Gold Corp., sliding 6.1% to $13.00.
On the economic slate, Statistics Canada said that wholesale sales climbed more than expected in February, rising 1.6% to $48.5 billion, mostly on the strength of motor-vehicle and machinery and equipment sales.
The TSX Venture Exchange tumbled 26.92 points to 1,371.03, while the Nasdaq Canada index dropped 8.26 points to 403.29
All 14 Toronto subgroups started down and stayed down throughout the session. Metals and mining stocks collapsed 4.2%, global base metals were off 3%, and materials suffered 2.9%
In New York, European political uncertainty and another sign of a slowdown in the Chinese economy pushed stocks down Monday, with the three major U.S. indexes falling more than 1% before rebounding slightly in afternoon trading.
The Dow Jones Industrials erased 102.09 points to end Monday at 12,927.20
The S&P 500 fell 10.75 points to 1,367.78, and the Nasdaq shed 30 points to 2,970.45
Wal-Mart dragged down the Dow after it was hit by allegations that top executives in its Mexican division attempted to conceal a widespread bribery scheme.
Shares dropped nearly 5%, and shares of its publicly traded Mexico unit dropped nearly 12%. The company says it is investigating.
U.S. stocks finished mostly higher Friday, as investors welcomed another round of strong earnings from corporate America and positive news out of Europe. However, the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished lower for a third straight week.
It was a busy merger Monday with two deals announced ahead of the open. Dow component Pfizer reached an agreement to sell its baby formula business to Nestlé for $11.85 billion U.S. in cash. And AstraZeneca announced it is buying Ardea Biosciences, a California-based biotechnology company, for $1.3 billion U.S., or $32 U.S. a share -- a 54% premium from Friday's closing price.
On Monday afternoon, Facebook announced that it would spend $550 million U.S. to buy part of Microsoft's patent portfolio that it acquired from AOL two weeks ago for $1 billion U.S.
Xerox, ConocoPhillips, and Kellogg released first-quarter results ahead of the opening bell.
Xerox reported adjusted earnings of 23 cents U.S. a share, unchanged from a year earlier and matching forecasts. Its shares spiked following the report. But while ConocoPhillips posted improved earnings of $2.02 U.S. a share, it fell short of forecasts of a $2.08 U.S. a share. Its shares lost 2%.
Kellogg's shares plummeted after the cereal company cut its outlook citing the slowdown in Europe.
After the closing bell, Netflix will release first-quarter data. Analysts expect the company to post a loss of 27 cents U.S. per share.
The latest reading on euro-zone manufacturing also fell unexpectedly Monday to the lowest level since November, a sign that the 17-nation block has fallen further into recession.
Worries that the problems in Europe are still not over were further driven home by Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. Lagarde warned at meetings of the IMF and World Bank over the weekend that the "dark clouds on the horizon" for the global economy threatened the "light recovery blowing in a spring wind."
In the euro-zone, news that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, one of the architects of the European agreement to avert sovereign debt default, finished in second place in the initial round of presidential elections Sunday raised concerns that France would be less likely to work to keep the euro-zone together.
Sarkozy will now face Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, who has been openly hostile to E.U. austerity measures, in a May 6 runoff.
Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte resigned Monday, prompting new elections, after one of his coalition partners in the government withdrew due to negotiations over the 2013 budget.
This could place the Netherlands' AAA credit rating at risk, according to experts.
Fueling investor concerns about the global economy was a preliminary reading on Chinese manufacturing released early Monday, showing a contraction for the second straight month.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury galloped ahead, driving the yield down to 1.93% from Friday's 1.97%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery gained 89 cents to $102.99 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for June delivery lost $10.20 to $1,632.60 U.S. an ounce.