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North American stocks fell at the start of trading on Tuesday, weighed down by rising tensions on the Korean peninsula after North Korea attacked an island held by South Korea, killing two soldiers.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 101 points or 0.9 per cent, to 11,078. The broader S&P 500 fell 14 points or 1.2 per cent, to 1184. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 80 points or 0.6 per cent, to 12,849.

The downturn comes even as the Commerce Department revised its estimate for U.S. economic growth in the third quarter to 2.5 per cent, from 2 per cent previously. The other good news was that Hewlett-Packard Co. reported strong fiscal fourth quarter results after the closing bell on Monday, sending its shares up 1.6 per cent in early trading on Tuesday.

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However, Hewlett-Packard showed the only gains among the 30 Dow components, suggesting a widespread selloff as investors retreat from risk. Commodity producers were hit especially hard, with Exxon Mobil Corp. down 2.1 per cent, DuPont down 1.6 per cent and Alcoa Inc. down 1.5 per cent. Bank of America Corp. and General Electric Co. fell 1 per cent each.

In Canada, energy stocks were weak after the price of crude oil retreated to $80.44 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.30. Suncor Energy Inc. fell 1.3 per cent. However, gold producers held up, with Barrick Gold Corp. rising 0.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, financials skidded, with Manulife Financial Corp. down 2.3 per cent and Bank of Nova Scotia down 0.6 per cent.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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