U.S. stocks ended Tuesday relatively flat, but retreating commodity prices hit Canada's benchmark index hard as investors virtually ignored the implications of Monday night's federal election results.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed at 13,692.37, down 242.14 points or 1.7 per cent -- at one point during the trading day falling as much as 315 points before recovering some lost ground. In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at 12,807.51, up 0.15 point. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1356.62, down 4.6 points or 0.3 per cent.
Commodity producers were the biggest drags on performance after gold fell to $1,540.40 (U.S.) an ounce, down $16.70. As well, silver futures fell close to 10 per cent, and crude oil fell to $111.05 a barrel, down $2.47. Suncor Energy Inc. was hit particularly hard, falling 5.6 per cent after it released its quarterly financial results. Among other energy stocks, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. fell 2 per cent and Chevron Corp. fell 1.9 per cent.
Among materials stocks, Barrick Gold Corp. fell 2.1 per cent and Pan American Silver fell 2 per cent. The declines among commodities, and commodity producers could be linked to the move by India's central bank to raise its key interest rate more than expected to head off an inflationary threat -- triggering some consternation among investors that key developing economies could slow their economies, sapping demand for commodities.
Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc. was also a big drag on performance, falling 2.8 per cent after its quarterly revenues missed expectations amid sluggish sales of its Lipitor drug.
However, U.S. banks were strong, with Bank of America Corp. up 2.1 per cent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. up 1.6 per cent. MasterCard rose 2.6 per cent after its quarterly earnings topped expectations. And General Motors rose 2.5 per cent after it reported a 27 per cent gain in automobile sales in April over last year. Rival Ford Motor Co. fell 0.5 per cent.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article contained an incorrect reference to the oil price. This has since been corrected.
Click here for an overview of 2011's Best of the Blogs nominees
Vote: What's the best Canadian personal finance blog?
Vote: What's the best Canadian investing blog?Report Typo/Error