Canada's main stock index plunged to its lowest level in more than two weeks on Thursday, as oil prices pulled down energy shares, while the Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz predicted that low oil prices would hurt the country's economic growth.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index gave back 383.38 points, or 2.5%, to move into noon hour Thursday at 14,799.26
The Canadian dollar dropped 0.41 cents to 74.43 U.S.
The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Aphria Inc, which jumped 64 cents, or 12.8%, to $5.64, and Hydro One Ltd, which rose 89 cents, or 4.4%, to $21.26.
Dollarama Inc fell $4.05, or 10.7%, , the most on the TSX, to $33.74, after the discount store chain reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue, as it faces stiff competition from U.S.-based Dollar Tree Inc..
The second biggest decliner was First Quantum Minerals Ltd, which fell 95 cents, or 7.4%, to $11.89.
On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported this country's exports fell 1.2% in October, while imports were down 0.6%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world widened from $891 million in September to $1.2 billion in October.
Western University's IVEY School of Business reported that its Purchasing Managers Index for November registered at 57.2, below the reading of 61.8 for October, and 63 for November 2017.
The TSX Venture Exchange slumped 2.95 points to 560.16.
All but two of the 12 TSX subgroups floundered by midday, with energy slouching 5.1%, consumer discretionary stocks down 3.6%, and industrials weakening 3%.
The two gainers were health-care, up 1.5%, and gold, better by 0.9%.
Stocks fell sharply on Thursday as continuing fears over U.S.-China trade relations and concern over a possible global economic slowdown kept investors on edge.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average capsized 605.09 points, or 2.4%, to reach lunch hour at 24,421.98, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,300. It also fell back into negative country for 2018.
The S&P 500 dropped 57.01 points, or 2.1%, to 2,643.05, led by a decline in bank shares like J.P. Morgan Chase. The S&P 500 fell back into correction territory, down 10 percent from its 52-week high.
The NASDAQ lost 96.34 points, or 1.4%, to 7,062.07
Shares of major banks like J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America all traded lower on Thursday.
Facebook shares fell 1.5% after Stifel downgraded them to hold from buy.
Apple's stock dropped 3.2% after UBS said in a note it sees the weakest "purchase intent" for the iPhone in five years. The bank cut its 12-month price target on Apple to $210 from $225.
Trade fears ratcheted up after news broke Wednesday that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian authorities in Vancouver, where she faces extradition to the U.S. The arrest — which took place Dec. 1 — decreases the likelihood that a permanent U.S.-China trade deal will be reached. Huawei is one of the largest mobile phone makers in the world.
Meng's arrest comes after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on implementing additional tariffs on each other's goods. The world's largest economies have been engaged in a trade spat that has sent ripples through global markets. The skirmish has investors worried that corporate earnings and economic growth could be negatively impacted.
On Wednesday, U.S. equity, option and fixed income markets were closed in honour of former President George H.W. Bush.
Prices for the benchmark for the 10-year U.S. Treasury were sharply higher, lowering yields to 2.86% from Tuesday's 2.91%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices suffered $2.07 to $50.82 U.S. a barrel.
Gold prices $4.60 to $1,247.20 U.S. an ounce.