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A trader watches screens in a trading room in Lisbon October 3, 2012. (JOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/REUTERS)
A trader watches screens in a trading room in Lisbon October 3, 2012. (JOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/REUTERS)

The close: S&P 500 slumps for third straight day Add to ...

Stocks fell on Tuesday, handing the U.S. benchmark index its third straight decline amid ongoing concerns about the health of the global economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,473.53, down 110.12 points or 0.8 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1441.48, down 14.40 points or 1 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,273.57, down 145.42 points or 1.2 per cent.

The moves come as a delayed reaction to a downgrade of global economic growth expectations from the International Monetary Fund, which left markets relatively flat near the start of trading.

The IMF cut its growth forecast for 2013 to 3.6 per cent from 3.9 per cent in July, but said that performance could be even worse if the United States fails to hold off its so-called fiscal cliff and the euro zone fails to integrate its economy.

It also added that austerity measures were likely hitting economic activity harder than expected as governments cut back on spending to reduce their deficits.

The market declines also come ahead of the start of the third-quarter earnings season for U.S. companies. Alcoa Inc. kicked things off on Tuesday, after markets closed. The aluminum producer reported a loss of 13 cents (U.S.) a share from continuing operations, down from a profit of 15 cents a share in the third quarter of 2011 and modestly beating Street expectations. Alcoa shares rose 0.1 per cent during regular trading hours and in the post market added another 0.5 per cent.

For companies within the S&P 500 as a whole, analysts expect a year-over-year decline in earnings as a slowing global economy bites into corporate performance, marking the first such earnings decline since 2009.

While global economic concerns usually weigh on the price of crude oil, oil moved sharply higher due to concerns about rising tensions in the Middle East, where Turkey and Syria are now in open conflict. In New York, oil closed at $92.39 (U.S.) a barrel, up $3.06.

Gold fell to $1,765 an ounce, down $10.70.

Among Canadian commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 0.9 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 3.7 per cent.

Research In Motion Ltd. fell 5.5 per cent after Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek said that the company will not launch the next generation of BlackBerry devices until March, rather than January as hoped.


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