TORONTO — North American equity markets got hammered with triple-digit losses Tuesday as traders focused on global economic weakness, sending commodity prices lower.In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index tumbled 288.35 points, or more than two per cent, to 13,491.09, with all sectors in negative territory.The capped metals and mining sector was the leading decliner, down 4.91 per cent as the December copper contract plunged nine cents to US$2.30 a pound.Elsewhere in commodities, the November crude oil contract closed 60 cents lower at US$46.36 a barrel, while October natural gas was unchanged at US$2.58 per thousand cubic feet and December gold fell $8 to US$1,124.80 an ounce. The commodity-sensitive Canadian dollar shed 0.07 of a U.S. cent to 75.43 cents US.In New York, indexes were also sharply lower, although well off their worst levels of the day. The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day down 179.72 points at 16,330.47, while the broader S&P 500 gave back 24.23 points to 1,942.74 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 72.23 points to 4,756.72.“What we are seeing reflected in stock prices today is continued macro uncertainty,” said Colum McKinley, vice-president, Canadian equities, CIBC Asset Management.“And I think until we get greater clarity around global growth and greater certainty around global growth and what that looks like . . . we’re going to continue to see more volatility and uncertainty being reflected in equity prices.”J.J. Kinahan, TD Ameritrade’s chief strategist, said lingering concern over the economic slowdown in China and the prospect of the Federal Reserve’s first interest rate hike in nearly a decade are making investors skittish.“I think it’s really just the fact that nobody knows what to do,” Kinahan told The Associated Press. “When things are this uncertain, the reaction is sell first and see what happens later.”On Wednesday, traders will get a look at the Caixin preliminary index on monthly manufacturing. The index, based on a survey of factory purchasing managers, will be closely watched after sinking to a six-year low in August. Fed officials cited China’s struggling economy as one factor in its decision last week to delay raising interest rates.McKinley said the message the Fed sent by not raising rates was that they were seeing signs that growth around the world “wasn’t as robust as they would like or hoped to see at this point in the recovery.”He said investors are waiting to see what stimulus measures or continued structural changes the Chinese government makes so they can determine what represents a “consistent and sustainable growth rate” for the world’s second-largest economy.“Right now investors don’t know what that number is,” he said.In corporate news, Volkswagen AG, the world’s top-selling carmaker, issued a profit warning after reporting that some 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with software used to cheat U.S. emissions tests. The company said it was setting aside around 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to cover the fallout from the scandal.