Stocks pared their losses on Wednesday afternoon but still ended the day down largely on weak commodity producers.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,126.21, down 71.52 points or 0.5 per cent – after being down more than 120 points earlier in the day. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1405.54, down 6.98 points or 0.5 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,413.86, down 98.18 points or 0.8 per cent, after recovering about 60 points for its earlier low.
Commodities were hit hard: Crude oil fell to $105.41 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.92, following reports that the United States, France and the U.K. are pushing for the release of oil reserves to bring down oil prices. Among Canadian energy stocks, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 1.2 per cent and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. fell 1.6 per cent.
Gold fell to $1,657.90 an ounce, down $27. Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1.4 per cent. Among other commodity-related stocks, Alcoa Inc. fell 2.3 per cent and Caterpillar Inc. fell 3.5 per cent.
The economic backdrop wasn’t too encouraging. A report on U.S. durable goods orders for February showed a gain of 2.2 per cent – marking a rebound from a dip in January but shy of a 3 per cent gain expected by economists.
In other moves, U.S. financials showed some strength: Bank of America Corp. rose 1.6 per cent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 0.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, Research In Motion Ltd. fell 1.6 per cent as investors await the release of the BlackBerry maker’s quarterly results on Thursday, after markets close.