By Michael Bellusci and Aoyon Ashraf
Volatility on the Canadian benchmark reached a record this week as stocks swung between losses and gains amid anxiety that swept across global markets on the global spread of the virus that has killed more than 4,700 people and an oil price war that has upended the energy sector. Canada generates about 9% of its gross domestic product from energy, and falling oil prices could threaten the existence of some of its drillers.
Canadian energy companies including Husky Energy Inc. are slashing their spending plans for this year as low oil prices make most production unprofitable, straining their cash flow.
“Volatility is normal. We’re used to it. It just went away for a long period of time,” Paul Moroz, chief investment officer at Mawer Investment Management Ltd. said. The firm is focused on companies with good balance sheets and good business models that can survive this.
Canada’s energy stocks were the worst performers this week, sinking 26%, followed by materials and health-care shares. Pot producer Aurora Cannabis Inc fell 31% this week, while energy services firm ShawCor Ltd. dropped 71%.
“There is no denying that headlines, fear and rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus (Covid-19 virus) have become the primary driver of investment performance the past several weeks,” Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at Bank of Montreal, said in a podcast Friday. “Investors should be mindful that perspective matters, to remain poised and patient in their decision making, and to trust their investment process.”