North American stock markets sustained heavy losses with U.S. markets posting their worst start to October in more than a decade on growing fears of recession.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 136.69 points at 16,310.97.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 494.42 points at 26,078.62. The S&P 500 index was down 52.64 points at 2,887.61, while the Nasdaq composite was down 123.44 points at 7,785.25.

The Canadian dollar traded for an average of 75.22 cents US compared with an average of 75.51 cents US on Tuesday.

The November crude contract was down 98 cents at US$52.64 per barrel and the November natural gas contract was down 3.6 cents at US$2.25 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$18.90 at US$1,507.90 an ounce and the December copper contract was up one cent at US$2.57 a pound.

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