North American stock indexes fell sharply at the open on Friday, following the S&P 500 and the Dow’s best three-day run in nearly a century, as fears about the economic damage from the rapidly spreading coronavirus returned to the forefront.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 653.70 points, or 2.90 per cent, at the open to 21,898.47.
The S&P 500 opened lower by 74.20 points, or 2.82 per cent, at 2,555.87. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 243.29 points, or 3.12 per cent, to 7,554.25 at the opening bell.
In Toronto, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 500.80 points to 12,870.37.
The financial impact of COVID-19
The Canadian dollar was trading 71.08 cents US compared to an average of 71.04 cents US on Thursday.
The Bank of Canada also said on Friday morning it was cutting its key interest target by half a percentage point to 0.25 per cent in an unscheduled rate announcement.
In a statement on its website, the central bank said its decision to lower rates is aimed at cushioning the economic shocks from COVID-19 and a sharp drop in oil prices by easing the cost of
The interest rate cut takes the key rate to what the central bank referred to as “its effective lower bound” or the lowest level that rates can be set.
Canada’s central bank is also launching two new programs. One will aim to alleviate strains in short-term funding markets, while the other will see the central bank begin acquiring federal government securities in the secondary market with a minimum of $5 billion per week.
— With files from the Canadian Press