The greenback made its biggest move against the euro. Burgeoning debt crises within the governments of Greece, Portugal and Spain had market players wondering how the European Union would deal with the risk of default by those three nations, heightened by their out-of-control budget deficits.
The soaring dollar makes gold more expensive in other currencies, reducing demand. Indeed, since most commodities are denominated in greenbacks, commodities prices and commodities-linked stocks all took a nosedive Thursday, from copper extractors to steel producers to the shipping companies that haul the stuff across the oceans.
raised fresh doubts about economic recovery. Equities across the board promptly sold off:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
dropped by more than 200 points by midday Thursday, reaching a new 2010 valley.
But gold miners bled as much if not more than any other sector, and some of the mid-tier and most of the smaller, more speculative plays were the worst off Thursday.
The Midas-esque named
was down 7% to $13.30, and
, which is developing the huge Oyu Togoi copper-and-gold mine in Mongolia, was falling 11% to $13.15.
was down 6% to $50.54, and
was retreating the same percentage to $9.87;
Among the majors, shares of Canada's
were losing more than 5% apiece.
, the biggest gold producer in the U.S., held up slightly better than the rest, falling 4.8% to $43.67.
, which produces more copper than gold, saw its stock fall 4.3% to $67.44. Copper prices on the Comdex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped sharply. The most heavily traded futures contract, copper for March delivery, was down more than 9 cents to $2.88 a pound, its lowest level since November.
-- Written by Scott Eden in New York
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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.