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Canadian Shares Sliding Down Sharply On Virus Jitters

Canadian stocks are drifting lower Wednesday morning, tracking a sell-off in global markets amid reports showing a sharp surge in coronavirus infections and fatalities across the globe, and warning of more severe casualties in coming weeks.

Data showing a sharp decline in Canadian manufacturing activity in the month of March is also weighing on sentiment.

Financial, consumer discretionary, information technology, industrial and healthcare shares are among the major losers. Energy stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend, while materials are moving higher.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index, which tanked to 12,896.62, losing about 480 points in the process, was down 311.30 points, or 2.3%, at 13,067.45 a little while ago.

In the financial space, Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO) is declining more than 6%. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), CDN Western Bank (CWB.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) and Laurentian Bank (LB.TO) are down 2 to 4%.

Among consumer discretionary shares, Hudsons Bay Company (HBC.TO) is down nearly 6.5%. Martinrea International (MRE.TO), Restaurant Brands International (QSR.TO), Mty Food Group (MTY.TO), Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC.A.TO), Canada Goose Holdings (GOOS.TO) and The Stars Group (TSGI.TO) are down 3 to 5%. Magna International (MG.TO) and Aritzia Inc (ATZ.TO) are down 2.2% and 2.5%, respectively.

Dollarama Inc (DOL.TO) is declining 2.8%. The company said its net earnings increased to $178.7 million, or $0.57 per diluted common share, in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2020, compared to $171.0 million, or $0.53 per diluted common share, in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2019.

Among the shares in the industrial section, Cae Inc (CAE.TO), SNC-Lavalin (SNC.TO), Transcontinental (TCL.A.TO) and Tfi International (TFII.TO) are down 4 to 7%.

Technology stock BlackBerry (BB.TO) is declining more than 11%. Cannabis shares Hexo Corp (HEXO.TO) and Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) are down 11% and 3.1%, respectively.

B2Gold Corp (BTO.TO) and Kinross Gold Corporation (K.TO) are rising 7.5% and 6.75%, respectively. Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) is gaining about 5%.

In the energy section, Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) is gaining 4.15%, Husky Energy (HSE.TO) is rising 4% and Enerplus Corp (ERF.TO) is up 3.4%. Vermilion Energy (VET.TO) is gaining about 1.5%.

Data from Markit showed manufacturing activity in Canada fell sharply in March. The IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing PMI fell to 46.1 in March 2020 from 51.8 in the previous month, the steepest contraction in factory activity since the series began, as the coronavirus pandemic hit the economy.

Reduced operating capacity and low demand due to the virus outbreak contributed to the sharp drop in output. New orders declined at the quickest pace on record mainly among food producers and pharmaceuticals.

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