North American stocks fell slightly at the start of trading on Monday, weighed down by commodity producers after China outlined a lower target for economic growth this year.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,954. The broader S&P 500 fell 3 points or 0.3 per cent, to 1,366. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 24 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,620.
The declines follow an update to Chinese economic growth expectations from Chinese policymakers, with growth now targeted at 7.5 per cent. In previous years, the target was 8 per cent, with the economy generally topping expectations by a wide margin. While 7.5 per cent growth is enviable by U.S. and European standards, it does come close to what is considered a hard-landing by Chinese standards and raises some concerns about the country's demand for commodities.
Among Canadian energy stocks, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 0.4 per cent and Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. fell 1 per cent, even as the price of crude oil held relatively steady, at $106.79 (U.S.) a barrel. Barrick Gold Corp. fell 0.4 per cent after gold fell about $5 an ounce, to $1,705.
Among U.S. stocks, Alcoa Inc. fell 0.8 per cent and Caterpillar Inc. fell 1 per cent, putting these commodity-related stocks among the chief laggards within the Dow. Meanwhile, International Business Machines Corp. rose 0.5 per cent and Kraft Foods rose 0.2 per cent.