Loonie poised to close below 70 cents U.S. for first time in nearly 13 years

The Canadian dollar was poised to close below 70 cents U.S. for the first time in nearly 13 years and the Toronto Stock Exchange was facing another major loss before the closing bell Wednesday.

TORONTO — The Canadian dollar was poised to close below 70 cents U.S. for the first time in nearly 13 years and the Toronto Stock Exchange was facing another major loss before the closing bell Wednesday.

In mid-afternoon trading, the loonie was at 69.75 cents U.S., a loss of 0.39 of a cent. The last time the dollar settled below the 70-cent U.S. mark was on April 30, 2003, when it was 69.76 cents U.S.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 161.60 points at 12,212.30, running its 10th losing day in 11 trading sessions since the Christmas break amid ongoing weakness in oil prices and lacklustre economic news out of China.

Since Christmas, the TSX has lost almost 1,100 points, or about 8.2 per cent of its value.

New York markets also took a turn for the worse after two days of gains that had put an end to a string of heavy losses.

The Dow Jones was down 254.34 points at 16,261.88, while the S&P500 shed 34.51 points to 1,904.17. The Nasdaq declined 123.82 points to 4,562.10.

On commodity markets, the see-sawing February contract for West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 11 cents at US$30.33 a barrel as the North American benchmark continued to test the US$30 mark.

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