Canada’s main stock market rallied on Thursday and the loonie recovered from an earlier four-year low, as the price of oil posted its biggest-ever gain and global policymakers took steps to try to contain the financial rout triggered by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Toronto Stock Exchange Composite Index closed up 3.8 per cent at 12,170.52, with gains across all 10 of the index’s main groups. The index has fallen about 32 per cent from its Feb. 28 peak.
The healthcare sector, which includes once high-flying cannabis shares, rose 9.5 per cent, while energy was up 5.4 per cent.
U.S. crude oil prices spiked by 25 per cent, the largest single-day gain on record, after plunging the previous day to near 20-year lows.
Stocks globally also rose as the Federal Reserve increased access to dollars for central banks in nine countries and after the European Central Bank pledged late on Wednesday to buy 750 billion euros in sovereign debt through 2020.
The scramble for U.S. dollar liquidity continued despite efforts to contain financial stress, with the greenback climbing about 1.5 per cent against a basket of major currencies.
The Canadian dollar was nearly unchanged at 1.4518 to the greenback, or 68.88 U.S. cents. The currency touched its weakest intraday level since January 2016 at 1.4669.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he expected the closure of the U.S.-Canada border to take effect overnight on Friday and was working with domestic carriers to bring home citizens stranded overseas.
On Wednesday, Trudeau said his government would provide C$27 billion ($18.6 billion) in stimulus directly to Canadian families and businesses and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz left the door open to further interest rate cuts.
Canada added jobs in February for the eighth consecutive month, but the 7,200 increase was the smallest since October, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.
Canadian government bond yields fell across a flatter curve, with the 10-year down 4.3 basis points at 1.002 per cent. The gap between Canada’s 10-year yield and the U.S. equivalent narrowed by 6 basis points to a spread of 15.3 basis points in favor of the U.S. bond.
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