Canada’s main stock market fell to an eight-year low on Monday and the Canadian dollar weakened as economic uncertainty triggered by the spreading coronavirus outbreak overshadowed policy maker efforts to ease stress in the financial system.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 5.3 per cent at 11,228.49, its lowest closing level since October 2011. Since peaking in February, the index has tumbled 37.5 per cent.
“Is this the bottom? No one knows,” said Lorne Steinberg Wealth Management Inc. “But every panic leads to a buying opportunity. This time is no different and investors today will be richly rewarded over the coming years.”
The heavily weighted financial services sector fell 7.9 per cent, while the utilities group was down 13.1 per cent.
The Federal Reserve took unprecedented steps to support U.S. households and companies more directly with credit. The Bank of Canada has also taken a series of steps to ease financial market stress and has said that if necessary it can buy corporate and municipal bonds to bolster liquidity.
Still, the Bank of Canada’s first operation under the Bankers’ Acceptance Purchase Facility (BAPF) showed dealers bidding aggressively for funding, a sign that there is some way to go before stress is reduced in Canadian money markets.
A clearly unhappy Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said people defying advice to isolate themselves to fight the coronavirus outbreak should “go home and stay home” or face sanctions.
At 4:56 p.m., the Canadian dollar was trading 0.7 per cent lower at 1.4521 to the greenback, or 68.87 U.S. cents. The currency, which last Thursday hit a four-year low at 1.4669, traded in a range of 1.4337 to was 1.4560.
The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, settled 3.2 per cent higher at $23.36 a barrel. Oil has been pressured in recent weeks by the demand destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a price war between producers Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Canadian wholesale trade increased by 1.8 per cent in January from December on stronger sales in the motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts and accessories subsector, Statistics Canada said. Analysts had forecast a 0.2 per cent decrease.
Canadian government bond yields fell across a flatter curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year was down 4.6 basis points at 0.818 per cent.
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