TSX plunges three per cent, joins markets in deep decline

TORONTO -- The Toronto Stock Exchange fell sharply Wednesday morning, losing more than three per cent of its value, joining other markets around the world in a deep decline.

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The S&P/TSX index was down 402.78 points, or about 3.36 per cent, to 11,599.46 after about 90 minutes of trading Wednesday -- extending losses that have piled up for weeks.

On Tuesday, Canada's largest stock market had only its third positive session since the Christmas break, rising 60.07 points.

In New York, the major indexes were all down about three per cent: the Dow Jones Industrial average fell 441.84 points to 15,574.18, the broader S&P 500 index dropped 56.27 points to 1,825.06 and the Nasdaq 100 lost 132.94 points to 4,014.13.

Major European indexes were also down more than three per cent near the end of their trading days and Asian markets closed lower, with Hong Kong and Tokyo down nearly four per cent.

The loonie was at 68.27 cents U.S. -- 0.42 of a cent below Tuesday's close.

The currency showed a brief gain after the Bank of Canada announced at 10 a.m. ET that its key interest rate would be held at 0.5 per cent. But Canada's dollar was predominantly below Tuesday's close and traded as low as 68.07 cents U.S. overnight.

March crude futures were at US$28.08, down US$1.49, and February crude futures dipped below US$27 but on light volume -- weighing heavily on the loonie and other currencies as well as oil producers. February contracts settled Tuesday at US$28.46 a barrel. Gold February contracts were at US$1.101.80 before noon on Wednesday, up US$12.70.

The Toronto stock market's decline was felt across most of its subindexes, with gold the only winner.

The biggest decline was in metals and mining, with the six-stock index down 7.4 per cent. Copper producers First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) and HudBay Minerals (TSX:HBM) fell the most.

The TSX energy subindex was down 5.5 per cent. Among the biggest decliners was Husky Energy (TSX:HSE), which announced late Tuesday that it was ending a dividend and cutting production because of low commodity prices.


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