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TSX plunges nearly 5% Add to ...

The Toronto stock market plunged almost 5 per cent Monday in one of its worst one-day losses ever as investors judged a U.S. economic stimulus plan announced on Friday as not sufficient to keep the U.S. from sliding into recession. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 604.98 points or 4.75 per cent, to 12,132.14. Investors also worry about fragile credit markets while analysts say it's very difficult to see a bottom to a series of declines that have sent global indexes down sharply this month. "It's going to be something that will have to be waited out over time, and we're going to have to see some positive data come out before people regain confidence, and that's really what's missing here, is confidence," said Gareth Watson, associate director of Canadian equity adviser at Scotia McLeod in Toronto. "Investors just don't have any confidence at all and when we start to get that confidence restored - which could easily take at least another six months, minimum - I don't think people are expecting a sustainable material rally in the marketplace." The U.S. stimulus plan calls for about $145-billion (U.S.) worth of tax relief to encourage consumer spending but some say it's too little, too late and instead want the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut interest rates aggressively at the end of this month. The dismal performance comes after the TSX endured a 6.6 per cent dive last week, wiping out all gains for 2007. The one-month decline in February, 2001, was just over 13 per cent - just about the amount the TSX has slid this month. With New York markets closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the TSX's tumble echoed dismal performances in Europe and in Asia, where indexes were down between 5 per cent and 6 per cent, and analysts say a bottom to the declines is proving elusive. The TSX Venture Exchange fell 227.69 points, or 8.7 per cent, to 2,390.52. The Canadian dollar was also avoided by risk-averse traders, losing 0.52 of a cent to 96.81 cents, one day before the Bank of Canada is widely expected to cut its key rate by a quarter-point to 4 per cent to help cushion the economy from the U.S. downturn. The Canadian Press

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