Toronto stocks lose two per cent, oil falls below US$28 a barrel

Toronto markets suffered a third consecutive session of losses

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market shed two per cent of its value, dragged down by declines spread across most sectors and oil prices falling to levels not seen in more than a decade.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 252.75 points to close at 12,282.65, capping off a third consecutive session of losses.

The largest sector declines were seen in energy, metals and mining, energy and financials.

The downturn accompanied yet another big plummet in oil prices as the March contract for North American benchmark crude fell $1.75 to US$27.94 a barrel _ a drop of nearly six per cent.

The loss comes after the International Energy Agency reported that crude will remain under pressure this year as supply continues to outpace demand.

The Canadian dollar was a rare bright spot, closing 0.28 of a U.S. cent higher at 72.05 cents US.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.67 points to 16,014.38, while the broader S&P 500 lost 1.23 points to 1,852.21.

The Nasdaq composite index dipped 14.99 points to 4,268.76.

On the commodity markets, the April gold contract rose 70 cents to US$1.198.60 a troy ounce, copper shed five cents to US$2.04 a pound and natural gas fell four cents to US$2.10 per mmBtu.

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