North American markets turn negative, loonie gains strength

TORONTO -- North American stock markets were unsettled today, starting on a positive note but dipping into the red later in the morning.

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The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX index was down 11.93 points at 12,430.33 after 90 minutes of trading.

It had been as high as 12,522.65 shortly after the open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

The major U.S. indexes took a similar roller-coaster ride.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 70.51 points at 16,083.03, the S&P 500 index retreated 15.38 points to 1,887.65 and the Nasdaq was down 54.46 points 4,138.63.

The Canadian dollar, meanwhile, built on its early gains to trade at 72.20 cents US, up 0.91 from Tuesday's close.

On the commodity markets, the April gold contract rose 90 cents to US$1,128.20 an ounce and the March crude contract was up 58 cents at US$30.46 per barrel.

The S&P/TSX has lost about 600 points since the beginning of the year, including 232.11 points on Tuesday, due to a combination of lower oil prices, a slow domestic economy, weak global growth and the U.S. dollar's relative strength.



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