Stocks endured the steepest slump of their recent selloff on Thursday, with major North American indexes down sharply in midday trading, putting U.S. indexes into official correction territory for the first time in a year.
At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 307 points or 2.6 per cent, to 11,589. The broader S&P 500 was down 36 points or 2.8 per cent, to 1225.
The declines were broad, affecting all 10 subindexes within the S&P 500. Commodity producers were hit the hardest though, reflecting concerns about global consumption amid a flareup of the European debt crisis. Energy stocks fell 4.9 per cent and materials fell 4.6 per cent.
Other economically sensitive stocks also bore the brunt of the downturn: Industrials fell 3.5 per cent and consumer discretionary stocks fell 3.4 per cent.
Defensive stocks did better, but still fell. Consumer staples were the top performers, but fell 1.2 per cent. Utilities fell 1.7 per cent.
In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 409 points or 3.2 per cent, to 12,407.
Materials fell 4.6 per cent, with gold producers falling even as the price of gold held relatively stable, at $1,660 an ounce. Energy stocks fell 3.6 per cent and financials fell 2.1 per cent.
All 10 subindexes were down, but defensive areas held up better. Utilities fell 1.2 per cent and telecom services fell 1.8 per cent.