Canadian stocks resumed their selloff from last week, in a downturn that claimed financials in addition to commodity producers.
In midday trading on Monday, the benchmark S&P/TSX composite index was down 457 points, or 3.16 per cent, to 14,016.38, for its worst one-day dip of the year.
Crude oil prices were again pummelled amid ongoing concerns that the slow global economy is consuming less oil than expected. In New York, oil fell to a new five-year low of $63.35 (U.S.) a barrel, down $2.49, or 2.49 per cent.
From its high earlier this year, oil has now fallen more than 40 per cent. It has dragged Canadian energy stocks into a bear market, causing considerable damage to the commodity-heavy TSX.
Energy stocks were the worst-hit sector, falling 5.4 per cent on Monday. Blue-chip oil producers such as Suncor Energy Inc. and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. were the biggest drags, falling more than 5 per cent each.
However, the selloff was widespread, suggesting that investors are losing confidence in the broader Canadian market over concerns that lower oil prices could affect the economy.
Financials fell 1.9 per cent, as Toronto-Dominion fell 3.6 per cent and Royal Bank of Canada fell 2.2 per cent.
The Canadian dollar is also reflecting broader concerns. Against the U.S. dollar, the loonie fell to 87.15 cents, or its lowest level since 2009, when the global economy was emerging from the financial crisis.
Since mid-November, the S&P/TSX composite index has tumbled a total of 6.5 per cent, reducing its year-to-date gain to just 3.7 per cent and making it among the world's biggest laggards. In U.S. dollar terms, the index is down more than 4 per cent.
The remarkable divergence of Canada from most of the world was clear on Monday. While Canadian stocks tanked, the S&P 500 fell just 0.1 per cent from its record-high close on Friday. Germany's DAX index fell 0.7 per cent.
Indeed, while Canada worries about the impact of falling oil prices, a number of commentators are growing increasingly optimistic that cheaper energy will invigorate consumers in a number of oil-dependent economies.