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Gold continued its dramatic decline on Monday, down more than $100 (U.S.) an ounce in midday trading and weighing heavily on Canada's commodity-heavy benchmark index.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 236 points or 1.9 per cent, to 12,101. In the U.S., the S&P 500 was down 19 points or 1.2 per cent, to 1570. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was down 142 points or 1 per cent, to 14,723.

The declines follow a disappointing reading on Chinese economic growth in the first quarter. Gross domestic product expanded 7.7 per cent, missing expectations for 8 per cent growth and reigniting concerns about the country's economic health.

In the U.S., a reading of homebuilders' confidence fell to 42, down 2 points. The threshold for builder confidence kicks in above 50.

More generally, though, the market declines continue a rough patch that began last week after the S&P 500 touched fresh highs.

But gold was the standout on Monday, trading at $1,381 an ounce, down $102 or 6.7 per cent – bringing its two-day decline to a stomach-churning 11.5 per cent.

The move sideswiped gold producers, which had been lagging the price of gold on the way up and now seem inclined to outdo gold on the way down, too. The S&P/TSX global gold index fell 7.4 per cent, hitting its lowest level since 2008.

Elsewhere in the TSX, energy stocks fell 2.5 per cent after the price of crude oil also hit an air pocket, falling to $88.62 a barrel, down $2.67. Industrials fell 1.4 per cent and defensive telecom stocks rose 0.9 per cent.

Within the S&P 500, commodity producers were also the biggest laggards: Energy stocks and materials fell 2.7 per cent each. Industrials fell 1.8 per cent and consumer discretionary stocks fell 1.2 per cent. Telecom stocks rose 0.1 per cent and utilities fell 0.2 per cent.

In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.6 per cent and Germany's DAX index fell 0.4 per cent.