Canada's main stock index lost more than 300 points as a big drop in the technology sector drove it to its lowest level in three months on ongoing concerns about slowing global economic growth.

Giles Marshall, portfolio manager at Fiduciary Trust Canada, says the market has been driven over the last three to six months by macro factors such as monetary policy, inflation, geopolitics and weakening Chinese growth, more so than because of corporate earnings.

"So you've seen this very obvious tug of war between bulls and bears with the TSX trading in a narrow range ... but with a lot of interday and intraday volatility," he said in an interview.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down for a fifth straight day, losing 321.08 points or 1.5 per cent to 20,690.81. It has dropped six per cent over the last five days and 5.5 per cent so far in April.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 809.28 points at 33,240.18. The S&P 500 index was down 120.92 points at 4,175.20, while the Nasdaq composite was down 514.11 points or nearly four per cent at 12,490.74. 

Marshall said there's been a lack of clear overall direction for markets.

"This is an environment where there's no strong consensus, which is why you're seeing such choppy conditions day to day."

But he said there's notable changes below the surface with a pronounced rotation out of non-profitable technology and consumer discretionary companies into energy and defensives like consumer staples and utilities.

Energy was the lone sector in positive territory Tuesday, gaining nearly one percent on a rise in crude oil prices with Nuvista Energy Ltd. up 6.7 per cent and Baytex Energy Corp. up 2.7 per cent.

The June crude contract was up US$3.16 at US$101.70 per barrel and the June natural gas contract was up 17.3 cents at US$6.98 per mmBTU. 

Crude prices rebounded after dropping below US$100 per barrel to start the week on concerns about Chinese demand in the face of COVID-19 lockdowns.

"It's been a good day for the underlining commodity but you're seeing particular strength in the E&P (exploration and production) names which has typified the last three to six months," said Marshall.

The Canadian dollar traded for 78.14 cents US, its lowest level in six weeks and compared with 78.38 cents US on Monday. 

Information technology was the weakest of 10 losing sectors on the TSX. It lost 3.7 per cent with Hut 8 Mining Corp. down 8.4 per cent, Lightspeed Commerce Inc. off 6.8 per cent and Shopify Inc. 6.0 per cent lower.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped to a 52-week low as it moved again into bear territory after shares of several large technology companies plunged. Tesla lost 12.2 per cent while Apple and Microsoft were down 3.7 per cent.

Microsoft and Alphabet were reporting earnings after the close of markets with investors worried after Netflix recently posted very weak results.

"So I think maybe there's just a little bit more trepidation about the extent to which these kind of FANG stocks can keep the S&P 500 elevated. Nasdaq is characterized by a disproportionate number of long duration stocks with no or low profitability and they have really struggled and today is yet another day of weakness in those kind of names."

Consumer discretionary and health care were close behind technology, each losing about 2.7 per cent.

Materials fell despite higher gold prices as Ivanhoe Mines Ltd was down 7.5 per cent.

The June gold contract was up US$8.10 at US$1,904.10 an ounce and the July copper contract was down less than a penny at US$4.46 a pound. 

Bombardier Inc. and Air Canada lost 8.1 per cent and 7.3 per cent, respectively, to pull down industrials. The country's largest airline was weaker after missing expectations by reporting a net loss of nearly $1 billion despite a more than tripling of revenues.