The S&P/TSX and major U.S. stock indexes opened lower, pressured by a resurgence in worries over the European debt crisis and the looming U.S. fiscal cliff. The Dow Jones industrial average fall back below the 13,000 mark.
In early trading, the S&P/TSX index is down 37 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 12,175; the S&P 500 is down 7 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 1,402; and the Dow is off 74 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 12,935.
Most major commodities were also lower, with oil down 73 cents at $87.55 (U.S.) and gold down $1.30 at $1,750.10.
Markets are bracing for more news out of Washington and Europe that could incite volatility in coming days.
European finance ministers are meeting today, aiming to approve the latest aid payment to Greece. It's the third time this month they are meeting in an attempt keep the country solvent, with a breakthrough dependent on the ministers agreeing on whether some of the official loans to Athens might eventually be forgiven to cut Greek debt.
Spain is seeing its share of economic and political stress, after separatist parties in the Catalonia region won a snap election this weekend, promising to use their popular mandate to try to hold a referendum on independence.
Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for a three-week session after the Thanksgiving holiday last week, and they'll have their hands full trying to head off the more than $600-billion in spending cuts and tax increases set to take hold at the end of this year. Some Republican lawmakers over the weekend suggested that they may be ready to break a longstanding promise not to raise taxes, a sign that the two sides are at least willing to work together.
Market bulls do have something working in their favour today. U.S. consumers were out in full force over the last few days and are expected to spend the most ever shopping online today, which is known as Cyber Monday. That strength in the retail sector should eventually provide some fuel to the broader economy.
Here are some of the stocks moving on news today:
Research In Motion shares are up 2.5 per cent in Toronto after CIBC became the latest research house to praise the company's turnaround efforts ahead of the BlackBerry 10 launch. It upgraded RIM by two notches to "sector outperformer" from "sector underperformer" while more than doubling its price target to $17 from $8 (U.S.).
Goldman Sachs has added Yahoo to its "conviction buy" list - its highest recommendation - and raised its price target to $24 (U.S.). Shares are up 2.2 per cent to fresh 52-week highs.
Citigroup has initiated coverage on Apple with a "buy" rating and $675 (U.S.) price target. Shares up are 1.4 per cent.
Bernstein has upgraded Facebook to "outperform" and raised its price target to $33 from $23. Shares are up 7 per cent.
Onex Corp. is buying U.S. insurance broker USI in a $2.3-billion deal. Onex shares are down 0.5 per cent.
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. shares are down 2.9 per cent after news that the corruption scandal at the company has expanded, with Swiss prosecutors now reportedly chasing $139-million in suspected illicit payments. That's more than double the amount of missing money that was first reported.
Iamgold Corp. said it has reached a definitive agreement with the government of the Republic of Suriname addressing future resource development and related power costs. Iamgold shares are down nearly 1 per cent.