TORONTO – North American stock markets closed sharply lower Wednesday carrying out a big sell-off in China and recurring uncertainty over Greece\’s debt woes.
The decline came as an unspecified technical glitch halted trading around the New York Stock Exchange for more than half the session.
Trading of NYSE securities on other platforms – such as the Nasdaq – were unaffected by the halt. Other North American markets also continued to trade.
Toronto\’s S&P/TSX composite index plunged 212.43 suggests end at 14,412.07, with all of sectors lower, while the Canadian dollar was down 0.18 of the U.S. cent at 78.49 cents US.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average fell much more, down 261.49 points at 17,515.42, while the Nasdaq plummeted 87.70 points to 4,909.76 and also the S&P 500 fell 34.66 points to 2,046.68.
On Wednesday morning, the NYSE sent an alert to users in regards to a \”critical issue\” with its services and halted trading at 11:32 a.m. ET. Trading resumed at about 3:15 p.m. ET.
The stock exchange, which is the world\’s largest by market capitalization, didn\’t explain what caused the outage but said hello was internal and never due to a breach of their systems.
Despite the short-term attention focused on technical problems, more essential global issues were still the heaviest weight on the markets, said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall MacDougall & MacTier Inc.
\”The main event is what\’s going on in China and Greece – this (outage) is definitely an irritant,\” Nakamoto said.
\”It contributes to a sour mood.\”
The pullback on North American exchanges followed another big drop on Chinese markets, which have been on a month-long skid which has wiped out trillions of dollars in market price.
On Wednesday, the Shanghai composite sank six percent despite new attempts by China\’s government to stop the selling, amongst other things ordering state-owned companies to buy shares and promising more credit to invest in trading. The Shanghai index has lost a third of its value in the last month, but continues to be up 70 per cent over the past year.
Hong Kong\’s Hang Seng, a casualty of the turmoil in mainland Chinese markets, also lost six per cent.
In Europe, Greece rushed to put together a detailed economic reform plan by Thursday, a deadline set by its European creditors.
The creditor countries say they need time to evaluate the plan before leaders of the European Union\’s 28 countries meet on Sunday in what some have to say is Greece\’s last chance to stay in the euro.
On the TSX, energy stocks were down, with the index dropping 2.2 percent, as the August crude contract pulled back 68 cents to US$51.65 a barrel.
August gold rose $10.90 to US$1,163.50 an ounce.