Energy and tech sectors weigh on stocks in Toronto, index sheds 100 points

TORONTO — Major North American indexes fell Friday, with Canada’s main stock index plummeting about 100 points, as more than 1,000 new cases of a novel coronavirus were diagnosed around the world.

“In a word, it’s coronavirus that’s kind of driving everything today,” said Michael Currie, vice-president and investment adviser at TD Wealth.

The incidents of COVID-19 seem to be increasing, he said, so it appears the outbreak will hit the economy and negatively impact earnings reports going forward.

There are 76,769 confirmed cases around the world, including 1,021 new ones within the last 24 hours, according to the World Health Organization’s latest situation report. That includes 75,569 cases and 2,239 deaths in China, which has seen the vast majority of both.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 100.53 points to 17,843.53. Technology and energy were the two worst performing sectors.

Stocks in the technology sector lost, on average, about 1.98 per cent of their worth.

“When things are bad, like they are today, having a rough day, technology seems to be the weakest,” Currie said.

Energy stocks fell, on average, by 1.79 per cent as the April crude contract fell 50 cents to US$53.38 per barrel

That drop comes from the coronavirus news, said Currie, especially as the outbreak is centred in China, which is a huge energy customer.

Additionally, weak manufacturing data out of Japan and news that Russia does not wish to have an OPEC meeting ahead of the next scheduled one helped take the wind out of the sails of the energy sector, said Currie.

The materials sector, on the other hand, was one of the best performing of the day with shares gaining on average 0.56 per cent of their worth.

Most of that rise came from gold companies, said Currie, as investors turn to gold as a haven in times of global uncertainty.

The April gold contract climbed US$28.30 to US$1,648.80 an ounce.

South of the border, the Dow Jones industrial average declined 227.57 points to 28,992.41. The S&P 500 index retreated 35.48 points to 3,337.75, while the Nasdaq composite lost 174.38 points to 9,576.59.

The Canadian dollar traded for 75.62 cents US compared with an average of 75.45 cents US on Thursday.

Elsewhere in commodities, the April natural gas contract declined 1.4 cents to US$1.92 per mmBTU and the March copper contract advanced two cents to about US$2.61 a pound.

SOURCE : BNN BLOOMBERG

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