News Of First U.S. Omicron Case Leads To Sharp Pullback On Bay Street

Canadian stocks showed a substantial downturn over the course of the trading day on Wednesday after seeing early strength.

After surging as much as 1.7 percent, the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index pulled back sharply as the day progressed, closing down 195.39 points or 1 percent at 20,464.60.

The shocking turnaround came after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the first confirmed case of Covid-19 caused by the new Omicron variant has been detected in the U.S.

The CDC said the first confirmed omicron case was detected in an individual in California, who returned from South Africa on November 22, 2021.

"The individual, who was fully vaccinated and had mild symptoms that are improving, is self-quarantining and has been since testing positive," the CDC said. "All close contacts have been contacted and have tested negative."

Healthcare stocks turned in some of the market's worst performances on the day, resulting in a 5.3 percent nosedive by the S&P/TSX Capped Health Care Index.

Gold stocks also moved sharply lower despite an increase by the price of the precious metal, dragging the S&P/TSX Global Gold Index down by 2.7 percent.

A notable pullback by the price of crude oil also contributed to a significant downturn by energy stocks, with the S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index tumbling by 1.9 percent.

The price of crude for January delivery fell $0.61 to $65.57 a barrel after reaching a high of $69.49 a barrel.

In economic news, Statistics Canada released a report showing the total value of building permits increased 1.3 percent to C$10.3 billion in October, led by gains in British Columbia and Ontario.

The report said construction intentions in the non-residential sector surged up by 4.2 percent, while the residential sector edged down by 0.1 percent.

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