The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 50.01 points at 14,897.50, held back by energy issues among others as oil once again fell below US$60 a barrel.
In addition to lower prices, traders in Canada were also focusing on moves announced Thursday by Alberta's new NDP government to toughen standards on lager carbon emitters.
"Energy stocks are down today pretty much across the board," observed Colum McKinley, Canadian equities manager for CIBC Asset Management.
McKinley noted that in addition to increased carbon emission reduction targets and financial penalties on those who fail to met them, Alberta's oilpatch is also facing a further review on climate policies over the coming months.
"And we still have to go through the royalty review," he added. "So until we get through some of these key decisions, it imposes uncertainty on the CEOs of energy companies and (is) an added challenge in managing their businesses in a tough environment. So I think that is affecting energy stocks as well."
On commodity markets, the August crude oil contract lost 57 cents to US$59.70 a barrel, while August gold gave back $1.10 to US$1,171.80 an ounce.
The loonie was up half a U.S. cent at 81.15 cents.
U.S. markets steadied somewhat early in the session after a big drop Wednesday that saw the Dow Jones industrial average plunge 178 points amid concern over Greek debt woes and fears of interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Traders initially appeared encouraged Thursday by a Commerce Department report showing consumer spending rose 0.9 per cent last month. The gain, the biggest since August 2009, was up from a revised 0.1 per cent increase in April and higher than the 0.7 per cent generally expected by economists.
But after trading largely flattened at mid-afternoon, New York markets began fading and were sharply lower at the close. The Dow finished down 75.71 points at 17,890.36, while the Nasdaq was 10.22 points lower at 5,112.19 and the S&P 500 lost 6.27 points to 2,102.31.
"I think we're just taking a pause after some strong movements in stocks in the near term and digesting some of the near-term noise," the CIBC's McKinley said.
U.S. markets like those elsewhere are going to react to international news flow over the near term, "but over the long term I think it is something for fundamental investors to look through," he said.
McKinley says he always suggests that investors focus on the fundamentals and think about a business from a long-term perspective.
"Use this volatility that you're seeing in the near term ... (see) the opportunities that it's creating and use it to accumulate positions in well-managed companies," he said.