TSX Ends 2.3% Down On Widespread Selling


The Canadian stock market ended sharply lower on Friday as worries about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, and a sharp plunge in crude oil prices triggered a sell-off across the board.


Energy stocks were the worst hit after crude oil prices plunged more than 10% after OPEC and its allies failed to agree on a proposal to deepen output cuts. Healthcare, information technology, financial and materials shares tumbled.


The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index, which tanked to a low of 16,015.81, losing nearly 540 points in the process, eventually ended the session with a loss of 378.97 points, or 2.29%, at 16,175.02. The Index shed 0.96% in the week.


Vermilion Energy (VET.TO) ended 18.5% down. Vermilion reported a fourth-quarter profit of $1.5 million and cut its dividend in half due to weakness in commodity prices and reduced global economic prospects following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.


The company said that it will now pay a monthly dividend of 11.5 cents per share, down from its earlier rate of 23 cents per share.


Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO), Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO), Cenvous Energy (CVE.TO) and Baytex Energy (BTE.TO) declined 10 to 12%.


Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) ended lower by 7.1%. Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO), Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC.TO), Kinross Gold Corporation (K.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), B2Gold Corp (BTO.TO) and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) lost 2 to 4.3%.


Air Canada (AC.TO), Restaurant Brands International (QSR.TO), Cogeco Communications (CCA.TO), Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) and Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC.TO) ended with sharp to moderate gains.


On the economic front, a report from Statistics Canada showed the economy created 30,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 5.6%.


Another report from the Statistics Canada said Canada's merchandise exports fell 2.0% in January, while imports were down 0.5%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world widened from $732 million in December 2019 to $1.5 billion in January.


Western University's IVEY Purchasing Managers Index tumbled to 51.7 last month from January's reading of 57.3, but way above the 50.6 level in February 2019.


U.S. stocks staged a fairly strong recovery towards the end of the session, but still settled notably lower. The Dow slumped 1%, the Nasdaq plunged 1.9% and the S&P 500 tumbled 1.7%.


Worries about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak contributed to market's decline.


Recent data points to a slowdown in new coronavirus infections in China, but the disease seems to be spreading more rapidly around the rest of the world.


So far, more than 100,000 infections have been confirmed worldwide and more than 3,300 people have been killed by the virus.


Markets across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region also ended sharply lower on virus jitters.


In commodities, West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended down $4.62, or about 10.1%, at $41.28 a barrel, the lowest settlement since August 2016. The contract touched a low of $41.11 a barrel.


Gold futures for April ended up $4.40, or about 0.3%, at $1,672.40 an ounce. The contract rose to a high of $1,690.70 before giving up a significant portion of its gains.


Silver futures for May ended down $0.130 at $17.263 an ounce, while Copper futures for May settled at $2.5605 per pound, down $0.0125 from previous close.

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