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Canada’s main stock index endured its worst week since large corrections in March as investors got spooked by ongoing concerns about rising COVID-19 infection rates.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 90.06 points to 15,580.64. The week ended off 4.4 per cent from the prior Friday in the largest weekly decrease since a 13.6-per-cent drop on March 20. It was also 7.2 per cent below the late August high after markets enjoyed a rally. October ended down 3.3 per cent in addition to a 2.4-per cent decline in September. That follows several strong months since the TSX dropped 17.7 per cent in March.

It was also the worst week since March on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 157.51 points at 26,501.60. The S&P 500 index was down 40.15 points at 3,269.96, while the Nasdaq composite was down 274.00 points at 10,911.59.

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In the U.S., losses in richly priced tech heavyweights, a record rise in coronavirus cases and jitters over the presidential election snuffed investor sentiment.

The pandemic pushed U.S. hospitals to the brink of capacity as coronavirus cases surpassed 9 million, while the prospect of wider COVID-19 restrictions in Europe raised concerns about the economic recovery.

The CBOE volatility index held at a 20-week high, a sign of investors jitters ahead of the final weekend before Election Day on Tuesday.

“We’re two market days away from Election Day and people want to make sure that they’re not completely caught off guard,” said Pete Santoro, a Boston-based equity portfolio manager at Columbia Threadneedle.

The S&P 500 has fallen about 9.7% since hitting an all-time high in early September in a rally driven by the tech mega caps whose quarterly results this week failed to meet highly optimistic expectations.

Apple Inc tumbled after it posted the steepest drop in quarterly iPhone sales in two years due to the late launch of new 5G phones.

Amazon.com Inc slid after it forecast a jump in costs related to COVID-19, while Facebook Inc fell sharply as it warned of a tougher 2021.

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“All these names are eventually going to be repriced, they’re all ridiculously valued. It’s just that I don’t know when and I don’t know from what stratospheric valuation they inevitably reprice,” said David Bahnsen, chief investment officer at The Bahnsen Group in Newport Beach, California.

Communication services got a boost from a jump in shares of Alphabet Inc after the Google parent beat estimates for quarterly sales as businesses resumed advertising.

Google may have benefited as it has been trading at about 36 times earnings, far less than the 119 times earnings valuation of Amazon, Bahnsens said.

“There is a big selloff in those big tech names because they didn’t live up to the hype and people are really worried about next week’s election,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

Republican President Donald Trump has consistently trailed Democratic challenger Joe Biden in national polls for months, but polls have shown a closer race in the most competitive states that could decide the election.

The third-quarter earnings season is almost past its halfway mark, with about 86.2% of S&P 500 companies topping earnings estimates, according to Refinitiv data. Overall, profit is expected to fall 10.3% from a year earlier.

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Twitter Inc slumped after the micro-blogging site added fewer users than expected and warned the U.S. election could affect ad revenue.

The December crude contract was down 38 cents at US$35.79 per barrel and the December natural gas contract was up 5.3 cents at US$3.35 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract was up US$11.90 at US$1,879.90 an ounce and the December copper contract was down nearly one cent at almost US$3.05 a pound.

Read more: Stocks that saw action Friday - and why

The Canadian Press, Reuters, Globe staff

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