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Markets tumble as commodity prices skid

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Toronto's main stock index closed sharply lower on Friday as commodity prices were hit by fears of another Chinese rate hike.

 

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was down 185.50 points, or 1.43 percent, at 12,749.24.

 

In New York, Wall Street ended a five-week winning steak. Investors worried tighter credit in China would curb demand for commodities, driving down energy and natural resource stocks. The two sectors were the biggest drag on the S&P.

 

A string of global worries, including debt problems in Ireland, have prompted investors to reassess their positions or at least buy protective options so they can define their risk, said TD Ameritrade chief derivatives strategist Joe Kinahan in Chicago.

 

Reflecting the concerns, the CBOE Volatility Index jumped 10.6 percent to 20.61, the first time the index has closed above 20 since late October. The CBOE Nasdaq 100 Volatility Index also surged 16.4 percent to 22.55.

 

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 90.52 points, or 0.80 percent, to end at 11,192.58. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index slid 14.33 points, or 1.18 percent, to 1,199.21. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 37.31 points, or 1.46 percent, to 2,518.21.

 

Stocks have stalled in recent sessions after a two-month rally that climaxed last week, when the Dow and Nasdaq hit levels not seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.

 

For the week, the Dow and the S&P 500 each lost 2.2 percent and the Nasdaq fell 2.4 percent. The two sectors that did the worst were financial stocks, down 4 percent for the week, and information technology stocks, off 3.2 percent.

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