Markets sharply lower to start 2016 after China triggers worldwide sell-off

TORONTO - Stock markets got off to a tumultuous start to 2016 as a sharp decline in China triggered a sell-off that spread worldwide.

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The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 82.80 points, taking the index to 12,927.15, after falling as much as 262 points earlier in the session.

The Canadian dollar ended at 71.73 cents U.S., down 0.52 of a cent from Thursday's close before the New Year's holiday.

In New York, the Dow Jones average closed down 276.09 points at 17,148.94, the broader S&P 500 index declined 31.28 points to 2,012.66 and the Nasdaq lost 104.32 points to 4,903.09.

Fresh political tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran left traders questioning the outlook for oil prices if supplies are affected.

The February crude contract was originally up but eventually gave way to close 28 cents lower at US$36.76 a barrel, while the February contract for natural gas was unchanged at US$2.33. Gold prices ticked up, with the February contract rising $15 to US$1,075.20 an ounce.


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