Canadian stocks plummeted on Friday, extending losses to a sixth straight session, as worries about the coronavirus outbreak intensified and forced investors to exit counters.
The intensity of selling was so severe early on in the session that the market crashed by over 800 points at one stage this morning.
Though stocks regained some lost ground subsequently, the market still ended the session with a big loss. The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended down 454.39 points, or 2.72%, at 16,263.05.
The index shed 9.17% in the week, the biggest weekly loss since 2008.
Materials shares tumbled after gold prices plunged and recorded their biggest single-session loss in terms of percentage. The Capped Materials index declined 5.17%.
Telecommunications, real estate, utilities, consumer staples, financial, healthcare and industrial shares also ended with sharp losses. Information technology and energy stocks found support at lower levels and pared some losses.
The market breadth was very weak once again. As many as 1749 stocks declined, while 285 stocks moved up and 116 stocks ended flat.
Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) plunged more than 14%. B2Gold Corp (BTO.TO), Kinross Gold Corporation (K.TO), Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) and Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) lost 6.5 to 10%.
Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO), Rogers Communications (RCI.B.TO), Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) lost 2.3 to 5%.
In Canadian economic news, the country's GDP expanded 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019 over the previous quarter in which it grew 0.3%. In December, GDP expanded 0.3%, month-over-month.
Producer prices in Canada dropped to 117.30 points in January 2020, from 117.40 a month earlier, while wholesale prices were down to 104 points in January from 106.40 points in December 2019.
As news about the rapid spread of the coronavirus outside China rattled investors, markets across the globe tumbled, resulting in a huge erosion in values.
New Zealand and Nigeria have confirmed their first coronavirus cases. The World Health Organization has warned that the fast-spreading disease could soon reach most, "if not all" countries around the world.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said the organization has raised its assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the coronavirus to "very high."
In addition to the confirmed cases in new countries, the number of cases in countries like China, South Korea and Iran countries to rise.
According to reports, officials in the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, declared a state of emergency because of the pace of new infections there. South Korean officials are said to be rushing to test thousands of members of a church at the center of that country's outbreak.
In the U.S., California Governor Gavin Newsom said 33 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and the state is currently monitoring at least 8,400 others.
U.S. stocks regained some ground late in the session after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank will "act as appropriate to support the economy" amid the evolving risks posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Dow tumbled 1.4% and the S&P 500 slid 0.8%, while the Nasdaq edged up by less than a tenth of a percent.
Markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended sharply lower. European markets did not fare any differently either, with most of the markets, including the U.K., France, Germany and Switzerland, posting sharp losses.
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended down $2.33, or about 5%, at $44.76 a barrel, the lowest settlement since end December 2018.
Gold futures for April ended down $75.80, or about 4.6%, at $1,566.70 an ounce.
On Thursday, Gold futures for April settled lower by $0.60, or about 0.04%, at $1,642.50 an ounce.
Silver futures for May ended down $1.278 at $16.457 an ounce, while Copper futures for May settled at $2.5400 per pound, down $0.0315 from previous close.