Canadian markets at five-year lowFebruary 24th, 2009 - 12:55 pm ICT by IANS
Toronto, Feb 24 (IANS) Canadian markets plunged to their lowest level in five years Monday with financial and energy sectors diving sharply on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) on the first day of the week.
The third biggest stock exchange in North America saw the TSX composite index retreat by 302.32 points to close at 7,647.67.
This is the lowest point to which the market has sunk since October 2003.
Monday’s plunge also took the index almost half-way to its historic high of 15,000 points recorded last June.
The Canadian dollar, which sailed high on the back of high oil and commodity prices in 2007 and mid-2008, also continued its descent Monday, closing at 79.92 US cents.
It was yet another bloody day for the financial sector as it slipped a further 3.5 percent after plunging 14 percent last week.
Among the major losers were the nation’s top Royal bank of Canada that fell $1.25 to $25.82 and top insurer Manulife Financial that was down to $12.53.
Energy shares also plunged 5.4 percent, with top Canadian Natural Resources down by $1.72 to $36.54.
EnCana Corp. also slipped $3.49 to close at $44.78.
There was more bad news for the Canadian economy - cited as the best performing among G8 just months ago - as it recorded a 5.4 percent plunge in retail sales for the month of December.
Triggered by the 12.7 percent plunge in the auto sector, this is the biggest-ever fall in monthly sales in Canada in 15 years.
The country has already recorded its worst monthly job losses since 1976, with the figures for January pegged at 129,000.
However, amid the gloom, consumer confidence is said to be reviving slowly, reported a market survey.