Latest Videos

{{ currentStream.Name }}

Related Video

Continuous Play:

The information you requested is not available at this time, please check back again soon.

More Video

Mar 31, 2020

'Soul-sucking experience': Energy batters TSX in 2020's first quarter

Market trading shows stronger breadth and participation: Brian Belski


Security Not Found

The stock symbol {{StockChart.Ric}} does not exist

See Full Stock Page »

Well, it could have been worse.

But that’s of cold comfort to Canadian equity investors. The S&P/TSX Composite Index capped off the first quarter down 21.59 per cent, the 41st best performer among 88 global stock exchanges tracked by Bloomberg. Every single one of them ended the quarter in the red as the world economy began to grind to a halt in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, reflecting the flight to safety that took stocks out at the knees. Botswana came the closest to positive territory, sliding only 0.09 per cent, while Argentina’s Merval Index plummeted nearly 42 per cent.

None of the TSX subsectors finished the quarter in positive territory, with a one-two punch of the pandemic and fallout from the oil-price war hammering Canada’s benchmark index. Even the materials sector failed to get a bid, in spite of gold’s status as a safe-haven play in times of uncertainty. Below, BNN Bloomberg takes stock of the quarter that was.


Energy: -38.2 per cent

Health Care: -37.3 per cent

Consumer Discretionary: - 33.3 per cent

Energy stocks were sent to the mat as the COVID-19 crisis and the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia battered sentiment around energy. Global oil demand is widely expected to fall by 15 to 20 million barrels a day as those twin headwinds take their toll. West Texas Intermediate crude booked its worst quarter on record, and Western Canadian Select prices fell below US$5 per barrel to hit a new all-time low.

Ninepoint Partners senior portfolio manager Eric Nuttall said the first quarter of 2020 will go down in the record books. In an email to BNN Bloomberg, Nuttall said the devastation in the energy industry is unlikely to be forgotten any time soon.

“The first quarter for energy investors was by any measure an agonizing, soul-sucking experience that saw oil fall by over 60 per cent and industry stalwarts such as Suncor Energy Inc. and Cenovus Energy Inc. fall by as much as 20 per cent to 50 per cent in a single day. There was nowhere to hide,” he said. “With oil falling to levels that are forcing shut-ins, we await global oil demand to recover as COVID-19’s devastating economic impact lessens. One thing is clear: the oil abundance of today will lead to an oil supply crisis in the years ahead.”

Health Care, now dominated by the volatile cannabis stocks, was almost equally damaged. Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Hexo Corp. were the biggest losers, with the former seeing its share price cut in half and the latter losing almost 45 per cent of its value.

Purpose Investments chief investment officer Greg Taylor, who manages the firm’s Marijuana Opportunities Fund, said he anticipates the crisis will quickly separate the winners and losers in the sector. In an email to BNN Bloomberg, Taylor said the uneven performance of individual companies will bear out in the coming weeks and months.

“Many companies continue to fail to hit targets and are at risk of running out of funds. We continue to expect more consolidation and bankruptcies in the sector as the year progresses,” he said.

“Long term the prospects remain strong for the winners in this group but governments will be focused on other areas of higher importance for the next while and that may delay the long awaited broader rollout of stores throughout the country and a full rollout of cannabis 2.0 products.”

Other thoughts:

Karl Berger, senior wealth consultant, Cidel Asset Management:

“Historic. No more uncertain than 2008, but a lot of people have forgotten that markets can be really volatile, and in some ways a reminder for equity investors that occasionally bad things happen.” 

“But out of chaos comes opportunity, and it feels a bit like 2008 in that regard as well. There are many companies that offer fantastic, sustainable dividend yields and that will provide investors with income for the next decade. I guess that’s more about the period going forward than it is about the past, but that’s where I’m looking!”

Brian Belski, chief investment strategist, BMO Capital Markets:

“A month to forget and a Spring to look forward to. The fastest bear market in history took place in March, an unprecedented period that could result in an unprecedented recovery. After all, bull markets are born from bears.”

Brian Madden, senior vice president and portfolio manager, Goodreid Investment Management:

“I’d characterize it as the fastest bear market to unfold on record, with widespread damage to the economy and the stock markets, but mitigated somewhat by unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus in virtually all developed economies. We think the initial shock and panic phase has subsided, and an interim recovery has taken hold, but we expect aftershocks to reverberate for a few months.” 

Top Stories