The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 98.01 points to 14,854.49 as investors look for direction in a week light on corporate and economic data.
"We are definitely in a bit of a lull here, no sort of overriding theme," said Stephen Carlin, vice president Canadian equities at CIBC Asset Management.
The dollar was up 0.09 of a U.S. cent to 79.39 cents.
U.S. indexes were higher on the sixth anniversary of North American markets bottoming out following the 2008 financial collapse.
The Dow Jones industrials ran up 138.94 points, to 17,995.72, the Nasdaq climbed 15.07 points to 4,942.44 while the S&P 500 index edged up 8.17 points to 2,079.43.
March 9, 2009, saw the main TSX index bottom out at 7,567 points — it has since gained 96 per cent. In the U.S., the S&P 500 bottomed out during the financial crisis at 676.53. The index has more than tripled since then, raising concerns that it could be moving toward another bubble.
The resource-heavy TSX has been held back by a slowing global economy that has punished commodities. Energy stocks in particular have been hit hard by a collapse in oil prices.
"Canada does have its challenges and the single biggest driver from our perspective is low energy prices and the degree to which energy prices stay lower for longer will have more of a negative impact," Carlin said.
Meanwhile, a weaker U.S. dollar helped support commodity prices following steep declines across the board at the end of last week when the greenback appreciated following a stronger than expected U.S. jobs report. The data raised concern about when the Federal Reserve might hike interest rates.
The TSX gold sector led decliners, down 3.65 per cent while April bullion gained $2.20 to US$1,166.50 an ounce.
The energy sector declined 2.4 per cent while April crude in New York was 39 cents higher to US$50 a barrel.
The base metals component was 0.33 per cent lower while May copper rose six cents to US$2.67 a pound.
The consumer staples sector led advancers, up 0.83 per cent.
In corporate news, Apple shares were ahead 49 cents to US$127.09 as CEO Tim Cook unveiled the Apple Watch. Scheduled to hit the market in April, industry watchers are eager to see if Apple's version will be the tipping point for the sluggish smartwatch market. The watch is the first brand-new device Apple has launched without Steve Jobs.
Shipments by rail are under increased scrutiny after a Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) train derailed during the weekend about 80 kilometres south of Timmins, Ont. Several tank cars carrying crude oil caught fire and some cars fell into a river. CN stock declined 92 cents to C$84.74.
Grocer Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) says it will spend at least $1.2 billion on a number of initiatives, including the building of 50 new stores and more investments in its e-commerce offering, supply chain and IT infrastructure. Its shares inched up two cents to $61.54.