Markets plunge marks gloomy start to 2016

TORONTO -- An overnight drop in stock prices that began in China provided a dismal backdrop for the first trading day of 2016.

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The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index dropped 175.92 points or 1.35 per cent to 12,834.03 in the first minutes of trading Monday.

The Dow Jones average of 30 stocks fell 363.67 or 2.09 per cent to 17,061.36, the broader S&P 500 index declined 38.88 points or 1.9 per cent to 2,005.06 and the Nasdaq fell 113.49 points or 2.47 per cent to 4,479.78.

The plunge began on the Shanghai index, which dived 6.9 per cent to 3,296.66 before the market was closed early to avert steeper falls. It was the first time China used a new "circuit breaker" mechanism.

The Canadian dollar traded at 71.97cents US, down 0.28 from Thursday's close before the New Year holiday.

On the commodity markets, the February gold contract was up $16.90 to US$1,077.10 an ounce, the February crude contract was up 91 cents at US$37.95 per barrel and the January contract for natural gas was up one cent at US$2.35



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