Stocks Sink to 5-Mo. Low on Virus Fears

Index Facing Worst Week Since Financial Crisis

Canada's main stock index hit a near five-month low on Thursday as the coronavirus' spread outside China ratcheted up risk aversion, while gold miners benefited from higher prices.

The TSX Composite Index collapsed 410.03 points, or 2.4%, by noon EST Thursday to 16,631.49.

The Canadian dollar slumped 0.08 cents to 74.84 cents U.S.

Vermilion Energy fell $1.55, or 10.1%, the most on the TSX, to $13.84, while the second biggest decliner was Ballard Power, down $1.65, or 11.8%, to $12.36.

Alacer Gold gave up earlier gains and fell 17 cents, or 2.6%, to $6.48, while Centerra Gold lost 40 cents, or 3.9%, to $9.89.

On the economic front, Statistics Canada revealed the average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $1,042 in December, little changed from November. On a year-over-year basis, says the agency, earnings grew 3.4%, the effect of an increase observed from March to October.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange lost 26.75 points, or 4.9%, Thursday to 518.85

All 12 TSX subgroups were lower to midday, with health-care stumbling 3.9%, energy down 3.1%, and financials dropping 2.7%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks fell sharply once again on Thursday as investors worried the coronavirus may be spreading in the U.S. A slew of corporate and analyst warnings also dragged down the major averages.

The Dow Jones Industrials were bruised 617.07 points, or 2.3%, to break for lunch Thursday at 26,340.52. The Dow was on pace for its worst weekly performance since the financial crisis, falling more than 9% week to date.

The broader S&P 500 plummeted 66.52 points, or 2.1%, to 3,050.88.

The tech-heavy NASDAQ tumbled 209.55 points, or 2.3%, to 8,771.19.

Those losses put the Dow in correction territory, down 10% from its record close to where the industrials are trading at now. The S&P 500 was in correction territory on an intraday basis. It took the Dow just 10 sessions to tumble from the all-time high. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ set record highs last week.

Apple, Boeing and Visa were among the worst-performing Dow stocks, dropping at least 4% each. AMD lost 4%, and Nvidia fell 4.2%.

Microsoft warned Wednesday it will not meet its revenue guidance for a key segment. In a statement, its supply chain is “returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated,” which led the tech giant to cut its forecast for its personal computing division.

Personal computing accounted for 36% of Microsoft’s overall revenue during the previous quarter. Microsoft shares were down 4%.
PayPal also issued a warning about its outlook. The stock traded 1.3% lower.

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed on Wednesday the first U.S. coronavirus case of unknown origin in Northern California, indicating possible “community spread” of the disease. The CDC doesn’t know exactly how the patient, a California resident, contracted the virus.

President Donald Trump tried to assuage concerns over the outbreak. Trump said in a news conference Wednesday night the risk of coronavirus to people in the U.S. is still "very low."

He added the U.S. is going to "spend whatever’s appropriate" to deal with the virus. Trump also put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response to the coronavirus. The president added stocks should recover from their recent swoon.

Prices for the 10-Year U.S. Treasury jumped, lowering yields to 1.29% from Wednesday’s 1.34%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices faded $2.12 to $46.81 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices regained $12.50 to $1,655.60 U.S. an ounce.