The S&P/TSX composite index was down 133.93 points to 12,469.32.
The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.13 of a cent to 96.38 cents US after Statistics Canada said the trade deficit was $469 million in June, an improvement from a May deficit of $781 million, which was bigger than initially reported.
Meanwhile, south of the border, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in June to its lowest level in more than 3 1/2 years. The Commerce Department says the U.S. deficit for June fell 22.4 per cent to $34.2 billion. That's the lowest since October 2009 and down from May's revised imbalance of $44.1 billion.
On Wall Street, the Dow was down 93.39 points to 15,518.74, the Nasdaq fell 27.18 points to 3,665.77 and the S&P 500 was down 9.77 points to 1,697.37.
In commodities, December bullion pulled back $19.90 to US$1,282.50 an ounce, falling to its lowest level in nearly three weeks. The TSX gold sector was the biggest decliner as Goldcorp (TSX:G) fell $1.73 to $26.26 while Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) slid $1.12 to $16.25.
The TSX metals and mining sector was off 1.2 per cent as the September copper rose half a cent to settle at US$3.17.
The September crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved down $1.26 to settle at US$105.30 a barrel.
BlackBerry (TSX:BB) shares were seven per cent higher, up 64 cents to $9.91, after Samsung announced that BlackBerry Messenger will soon be available on its smartphones in Africa. The BBM service is expected to roll out across Android and Apple's iPhones in the coming months.
Stocks appear to have come off the boil in recent sessions as the run of corporate and economic news that marked the turn of the month has slowed down.
The main focus in markets remains on when the U.S. Federal Reserve will start to reduce its monetary stimulus. At present, the Fed is buying $85 billion worth of financial assets a month in an attempt to keep long-term borrowing rates low and inspire growth. Economists remain divided on whether the Fed will start the so-called tapering in September or wait until later in the year.
"People have had forgotten a little bit about the Fed reducing its stimulus, which will slow growth down, not just in the U.S. but in Canada," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investment.
"The market selloff right now is actually a good, healthy selloff. I hope it continues a little bit until we get to September, and therefore when the (Fed) announcement comes up, it's less of a decline (in stocks) and we can start moving ahead based on fundamentals again."
In earnings, Molson Coors Brewing Co. (NYSE:TAP) (TSX:TPX.B) delivered a bigger profit in the second quarter, handily beating analyst estimates. The North American beer maker says its profit from continuing operations in the second quarter was US$276.7 million — $1.50 per share, or $1.51 with discontinued operations included. Analysts had estimated US$1.38 per share of adjusted earnings and US$1.41 of net income. Its shares were up $2.80 to $55.49.
Cheese and dairy producer Saputo Inc. (TSX:SAP) reported a $136.7 million first-quarter profit, up from $121.8 million a year earlier. It also raised its dividend by two cents to 23 cents per share. The company expected to immediately benefit from its acquisition of Morningstar Foods in January, which it recently bought for US$1.45 billion. However, Saputo says it faced higher non-cash charges related to the deal, as will as higher interest expenses. Its shares dropped 45 cents to $47.24.
And WestJet (TSX:WJA) says its July load factor slipped to 83.1 per cent as traffic increased 8.3 per cent and capacity grew 11.1 per cent over the month last year. The company's stock gained 20 cents to $21.56. Its rival, Air Canada, said its load factor was 85.6 per cent, down from 85.9 per cent a year ago. The decrease came as system traffic as measured by revenue passenger miles increased 1.9 per cent and capacity measured by available seat miles increased 2.3 per cent. Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) shares dipped six cents to $2.12.