North American stocks plunge, Dow and S&P 500 enter correction territory


TORONTO _ North American stock indexes plunged steadily throughout the day, with losses on the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor 500 entering correction territory.

In New York, the Dow was down 1,032.89 points, or 4.15 per cent, to 23,860.46, and the S&P 500 index was down 100.66 points, or 3.75 per cent, to 2,581.00.

The Dow and the S&P 500 are both 10 per cent below the record highs the indexes set just two weeks ago, putting them in what is known on Wall Street as a “correction.”

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq composite index was down 274.82 points, or 3.90 per cent, to 6,777.16.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 264.97 points, or 1.73 per cent, to 15,065.61, in a broad-based decline. Gold was the only positive sector on the commodity-heavy index as more investors shifted toward the safe-haven asset.

The April gold bullion contract was up US$4.40 to US$1,319.00 an ounce.

Worries about inflation set the market rout in motion last Friday, and many market watchers have been predicting a pullback after the market’s relentless march higher over the past year.

In currency markets, the Canadian dollar closed at an average trading value of 79.46 cents US, down 0.25 of a U.S. cent. The loonie has been sliding since last week as jittery investors have turned to the greenback as a safe haven.

Elsewhere in commodities, the March crude contract was down 64 cents to US$61.15 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down one cent to US$2.70 per mmBTU. The March copper contract was down one cent to US$3.08 a pound.

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