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Mar 12, 2020

Investors flee Canadian market on worst day in 80 years

‘I have never seen so much headline risk’: Trader on COVID-19 impact

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Canadian stocks plunged, posting their biggest drop in eight decades as concerns mounted that the coronavirus pandemic will impact economic growth.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 12 per cent Thursday, the biggest one day drop since May 1940, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Trading was halted earlier in the day amid dramatic selling at the opening. The nation’s benchmark slumped to its lowest since February 2016 at the close.

“The most important thing right now is to focus on liquidity, focus on safe yields and non-cyclical parts of market,” including Canadian banks, David Rosenberg, founder of Rosenberg Research and Associates Inc., said in a phone interview. He’s “nibbling back into the market” and advising clients to look for stocks where dividends are safe.

Rosenberg, the former Merrill Lynch chief economist, who has long been forecasting a recession, thinks one has already begun in Canada and the U.S. “This is an absolutely horrible situation, at every level,” he said.

A growing chorus of economists believe Canada is on the brink of recession as the economy takes a double hit from the coronavirus and tanking oil prices, ramping up pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to boost its fiscal stimulus package.

Don’t bank on a quick bounce, at least according to Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. “The caveat here is that we do not believe there is a V-shape recovery given the magnitude of the recent technical damage in market internals,” the bank’s technical analyst Sid Mokhtari said in a note to clients.

Crude oil slumped further after President Donald Trump said the U.S. would restrict travel from Europe for the next 30 days in an attempt to contain the coronavirus, pummeling fuel demand.

Trudeau is in self-isolation and working from home while his wife awaits the results of a Covid-19 test. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau had been exhibiting flu-like symptoms after recently returning from a speaking engagement in London, the prime minister’s office said in a statement. While her symptoms have subsided, she’s self-isolating at home as she awaits the test results.

The prime minister isn’t exhibiting any symptoms.

 

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