Canadian stocks plunged Thursday, suffering their biggest loss since 1940 and closing at the lowest level in four years, as fear enveloped trading desks worldwide about the economic consequences of the growing coronavirus crisis.
The S&P/TSX composite index plummeted 1,761.64 points, or 12.34 per cent, to 12,508.45 with every sector in the red. Since the index’s peak on Feb. 20, $830-billion of market value has now been wiped out. The impulse to sell left few safe havens; even bitcoin tumbled. The energy sector was bloodied again, with the U.S. crude price falling 6 per cent.
Not since May of 1940, the month when Germany invaded France during World War 2, has the Canadian stock market seen a greater loss on a percentage basis.
The losses in Canada on Thursday even outpaced Wall Street. After flirting with the level Wednesday, the S&P 500 index officially entered a bear market – a decline of 20 per cent from its most recent peak – as it shed 260.74 points, or 9.51 per cent, to 2,480.64. It was the U.S benchmark’s worst day since 1987.
For Jason Del Vicario, a portfolio manager at HollisWealth in Vancouver, the situation is worse than 2008. “In 2008, we didn’t see the markets tank this much this quickly until the fall of 2008 and there was time prior to that to put one’s ducks in a row,” he says.