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Commodity producers dominated a sell-off on Wednesday, after investors reacted to a disappointing reading on U.S. job gains, a drop in non-manufacturing activity and a report that influential investor George Soros had begun unwinding his gold holdings.

At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 119 points or 0.9 per cent, to 12,689. The broader S&P 500 was down 13 points or 1 per cent, to 1343.

The declines were widespread, affecting all 10 subindexes within the S&P 500. Energy stocks were the hardest hit, falling 2.2 per cent. Materials fell 2 per cent, while industrials fell 1.2 per cent and consumer discretionary stocks fell 0.9 per cent.

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Defensive stocks, while down, performed considerably better. Utilities and consumer staples fell less than 0.1 per cent each, while health-care stocks and telecom services fell 0.5 per cent each.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 149 points or 1.1 per cent, to 13,543.

Energy stocks fell 1.9 per cent and materials fell 1.3 per cent, following the prices of gold and crude oil lower. Gold traded at $1,533 (U.S.) an ounce, down $8. Oil fell to $109.30 a barrel, down $1.75. As well, industrials fell 1.2 per cent and information technology stocks fell 0.7 per cent.

Defensive health-care stocks, consumer staples and telecom services showed modest gains.

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