U.S. debt impasse weighs on markets

North American markets fell as nervous investors focus on the deadlock among U.S. lawmakers over raising the government's $14.3-trillion US debt limit.
Joseph Mastrolia, a trader for Barclays Capital, monitors stock information on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday. Washington's deadlock over raising the U.S. government's debt limit and avoiding a default weighed on North American markets Tuesday. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

North American markets fell as nervous investors focus on the deadlock among U.S. legislators  over raising the government's $14.3-trillion US debt limit.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index closed down 135.39 points, or 1.0 per cent, to 13,300.56. Jitters about the approaching Aug. 2 deadline to raise the limit or risk a default punished the American dollar, helping to send the Canadian currency higher.

The loonie earlier ran as high as 106.3 cents US, its highest level  since early November 2007, but closed at 106.07, up .34 of a cent.

New York markets were mainly lower. The Dow Jones industrials were down 91.50 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 12,501.30. The Nasdaq composite index slipped 2.84 points to 2,839.96 while the S&P 500 index was lower by 5.49 points to 1,331.94.

U.S. President Barack Obama threatened Tuesday afternoon to veto emergency House legislation that aims to avert a threatened national default.

Markets 'on pause'

"Right now, everybody's just on pause, waiting to see what happens with the debt ceiling," said Dan Neuger, head of U.S. and European active equities at PineBridge Investments in New York.

August bullion prices built on Monday's latest record close, gaining $4.60 to $1,616.80 US an ounce.

September crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 39 cents to $99.59 US a barrel.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average closed 0.5 per cent higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 1.3 per cent and South Korea's Kospi added 0.9 per cent. China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.5 per cent.

London's FTSE 100 index was flat, Frankfurt's DAX dipped 0.05 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 fell 0.57 per cent.

With files from The Canadian Press