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A trader studies monitors on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Tuesday, March 6, 2012 (Seth Wenig)
A trader studies monitors on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Tuesday, March 6, 2012 (Seth Wenig)

At the open: Dow falls 100 points over Spanish jitters Add to ...

North American stocks fell at the start of trading on Wednesday, following global markets lower after a disappointing Spanish government bond sale reminded investors that Europe’s debt crisis continues to linger.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 106 points or 0.8 per cent, to 13,093. The broader S&P 500 fell 11 points or 0.8 per cent, to 1,403. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 80 points or 0.7 per cent, to 12,243.

The declines follow a disappointing government bond auction in Spain, where the amount of bonds sold was at the low end of estimates and yields moved higher, reigniting concerns about the economic health of the indebted country.

Stocks were somewhat volatile on Tuesday as well, after the minutes from the last Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting indicated that another round of monetary stimulus wasn't being considered right now.

U.S. bank stocks were among the hardest hit, with Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. down 1.8 per cent each. Alcoa Inc. also fell 1.8 per cent and Walt Disney Co. fell 1.7 per cent. Defensive stocks like AT&T Inc. and Procter & Gamble showed slight gains.

Among Canadian stocks, commodity producers led the declines after crude oil fell to $102.93 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.08. Gold slumped to $1,628 an ounce, down $44. Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1 per cent and Suncor Energy Inc. fell 0.6 per cent.

Financials, however, were relatively steady. Royal Bank of Canada , which fell 2.8 per cent on Tuesday, was unchanged. Toronto-Dominion Bank fell 0.2 per cent.

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