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Disappointing second-quarter results from Research In Motion Ltd., combined with weak commodities and uncertainty over the U.S. financial system, hammered Canada's benchmark index at the start of trading on Friday.

The S&P/TSX composite index plunged 288 points, or 2.3 per cent, soon after the opening bell, with big losses from just about every major sector.

RIM, which missed analyst expectations when it reported its second-quarter results on Thursday evening and produced a disappointing forecast for the rest of the year, fell 21.9 per cent.

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Among agriculture stocks, Agrium Inc. fell 8.1 per cent and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. fell 5.8 per cent. Energy stocks Suncor Energy Inc. and EnCana Corp. each fell 3.1 per cent. And among financial stocks, Royal Bank of Canada fell 2.2 per cent and Manulife Financial Corp. fell 1 per cent.

In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 112 points, or 1 per cent, to 10,910, over renewed concerns about whether the Treasury's $700-billion (U.S.) bailout plan will proceed and the blowup of Washington Mutual Inc., which became the largest bank failure in U.S. history. Citigroup Inc. fell 4.6 per cent, American Express fell 4.2 per cent and General Electric Co. fell 2.6 per cent.

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