TORONTO — North American markets fell sharply Thursday in a wide-ranging sell-off amid soft commodity prices and economic data in the United States.The S&P/TSX composite index lost 224 points to 14,895 points, weighed down by energy, metal and financial stocks. The Canadian dollar faded 0.30 of a cent to 90.14 cents US.All of a sudden, Canadian stocks are receiving a dose of realityBrian Belski, chief investment strategist for BMO Capital Markets, said some of the downward pressure could be attributed to profit-taking, but mostly, the market was pulling back from recent highs.“Investors in Canada over the near term have become complacent because the Canadian market has outperformed,” he said.“The issue when stocks go up is that you’re believing it more, and now all of a sudden, Canadian stocks are receiving a dose of reality.” [np_storybar title=”Eights things traders are saying about today’s huge sell-off” link=””]Dave Lutz of JonesTrading via Business Insider just circulated an email, giving a quick overview of some things traders are looking at:The S&P 500 broke below its 50-day moving average, and there is chatter about a large “institutional player” exiting positions in nearly 200 different stocks. Growth concerns are taking copper, silver, oil, and bond yields lower. There is “major hedging” in futures contracts due after a large broker was sold a block of HYG, the ETF that tracks high-yield bonds. “Chatter of a big fixed income sell program.” Yen is climbing due to concerns over Japan’s Government Investment Pension Fund. Rumors that a hedge fund is in trouble, with media companies SFX Entertainment, Media General, Nexstar Broadcasting, and Gray Television falling. Terror concerns. A breakdown in commodities. [/np_storybar]Lower commodities weighed on stocks and the Canadian dollar. The December gold bullion contract was down $4.40 at US$1,215.10 an ounce, while the December copper contract fell two cents at US$3.04 a pound. The November crude oil contract dipped 43 cents at US$92.37 a barrel.“We really feel that the momentum trade, especially in the energy and materials space has really skewed prices to the upside so far this year,” Belski said.“Now the resulting momentum shift is turning the other way.”On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials declined 236 points to 16,974, while the Nasdaq dipped 80 points to 4,474 and the S&P 500 index fell 30 points to 1,970.The move lower come amid signs the U.S. economic recovery is moving at a tepid pace.The U.S. Labor Department said weekly unemployment benefit applications rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 293,000, while business orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell by a record 18.2% in August, dragged lower by a plunge in demand for commercial aircraft.Why stocks will do better than bonds as interest rates riseIt’s about to get a whole lot easier to invest in China: Here’s what you need to know from A to HShares in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which sank more than three per cent, or $3.37 to US$98.31, a day after the tech company pulled the latest software update for its iPhone software after customers complained they can no longer make calls.Meanwhile, shares in Valeant Pharmaceuticals (TSX:VRX) were up four per cent or $3.19 at $140.48 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.The company said Thursday that Jeffrey Ubben, founder, chief executive and chief investment officer of health care investment manager ValueAct Capital, would join the company’s board on Oct. 1. ValueAct president Mason Morfit had sat on the board until earlier this year when he stepped down citing other commitments.Retailer Sears Canada (TSX:SCC) says its chief executive, Douglas Campbell, intends to resign and return to the United States by the end of this year to tend to personal family issues. Campbell had headed the struggling company for about a year after its last CEO, Calvin McDonald, announced he was leaving the company in the midst of a three-year turnaround plan. Shares in the company were up 10 cents at $12.75.