Loonie closes at 71 cents, lowest since 2003

TORONTO -- The Canadian dollar ended the day at its lowest point in more than 12 years as worries over economic growth in China and geopolitical concerns continued to roil equity markets worldwide.

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The oil-sensitive loonie closed down 0.46 of a U.S. cent at 71.02 cents U.S. after having fallen below 71 cents earlier in the day. The session marked the dollar's lowest close since July 2003 when it was recovering from a historic low of 61.79 cents US set in January 2002.

The February contract for benchmark crude oil dropped $2 to settle at US$33.97 a barrel, the lowest level since 2008, while gold, seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty, rose $13.50 to end trading at US$1,091.90 a troy ounce.

In other commodities, February natural gas fell 5.8 cents to US$2.267 per mmBtu and March copper shed 0.75 of a cent to US$2.088 a pound.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index tumbled 193.34 points to end the day at 12,726.80, the sixth consecutive losing session of a post-Christmas slump.

In New York, the Dow Jones average fell 252.15 points to close at 16,906.51, while the S&P 500 lost 26.45 points to 1,990.26 and the Nasdaq dropped 55.67 points to 4,835.76.



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