The Toronto stock market tumbled on Tuesday near midday as traders ignored largely promising trade data, particularly from the United States.
The S&P/TSX composite index was down 167.06 points to 12,436.19, after being closed for the Civic Holiday on Monday.
The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.15 of a cent to 96.40 c ents US after Statistics Canada said the trade deficit was $469-million in June, an improvement from a May deficit of $781-million, which was bigger than initially reported.
Meanwhile, south of the border, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in June to its lowest level in more than 3 1/2 years. The Commerce Department says the U.S. deficit for June fell 22.4 per cent to $34.2-billion. That's the lowest since October 2009 and down from May's revised imbalance of $44.1-billion.
On Wall Street, the Dow was down 110.32 points to 15,501.81, the Nasdaq fell 33.36 points to 3,659.60 and the S&P 500 was down 11.14 points to 1,696.
In commodities, December gold pulled back $16.40 to $1,286 (U.S.) an ounce, bringing the TSX gold sector down 7.7 per cent. September copper was flat at US$3.17.
The September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved down $1.35 to $105.21 a barrel.
BlackBerry shares were 6.7 per cent higher on the TSX, up 62 cents to $9.88, after Samsung announced that BlackBerry Messenger is headed to its smartphones in Africa. The BBM service is expected to rollout across Android and Apple's iPhones in the coming months.
Stocks appear to have come off the boil in recent sessions as the run of corporate and economic news that marked the turn of the month has slowed down. With August traditionally a low-volume trading month, many analysts think stocks may drift over the coming period.
The main focus in markets remains on when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start to reduce its monetary stimulus. At present, the Fed is buying $85-billion worth of financial assets a month in an attempt to keep long-term borrowing rates low and inspire growth. Economists remain divided whether the Fed will start the so-called tapering in September or wait until later in the year.
In earnings, Molson Coors Brewing Co. delivered a bigger profit in the second quarter, handily beating analyst estimates. The North American beer maker says its profit from continuing operations in the second quarter was $276.7-million – $1.50 per share, or $1.51 with discontinued operations included. Analysts had estimated $1.38 per share of adjusted earnings and $1.41 of net income. Its shares were up $1.31 to $54.
And WestJet says its July load factor slipped to 83.1 per cent as traffic increased 8.3 per cent and capacity grew 11.1 per cent over the month last year. Shares of the company gained 10 cents to $210.46.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.6 per cent at 6,577 while Germany's DAX slid 1.4 per cent to 8,285. The CAC-40 in France was 0.8 per cent lower at 4,019.
Earlier, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 finished one per cent higher at 14,401.06 but South Korea's Kospi shed 0.5 per cent to 1,906.62. Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 1.3 per cent to 21,923.70, dragged down by HSBC Holdings, which plunged 5 per cent a day after the bank reported weaker-than-expected revenue for the first half of the year.