Stock market seesaw continues as TSX and Dow Jones sell off Thursday


North American stock markets continued their roller coaster ride on Thursday as fears over the spread of the coronavirus continued to roil portfolios.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 193.26 points or a little over one per cent at 16,586.27.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 665.76 points at 26,425.10. The S&P 500 index was down 71.01 points at 3,059.11, while the Nasdaq composite was down 178.01 points at 8,840.08. All U.S declines were roughly 2.5 per cent in percentage terms.

The loonie was holding steady at around 74.50 cents US, a day after plunging because of a rate cut at the Bank of Canada.

Stock markets have been swinging wildly up and down for the last week and a half, with record highs and lows with each new coronavirus-related headline.

The S&P 500 had its worst week since the financial crisis a decade ago last week, as everyone from banks to airlines and tech giants downgraded their profit expectations. But this week alone, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has had two of its best days ever, with gains of more than 1,100 points on Monday and Wednesday.

Thursday is a new day as the Dow gave back another 700 points and is still more than 3,000 points below where it was in the middle of February.

Short sellers, who make money by betting the market will go down, have had a field day amid all the volatility. Research published Wednesday by analytics firm S3 Partners shows short sellers have made $50 billion US from the sell off since it began last week.

Watch the video below for an explainer of how short-selling works:

An animated explanation of how people make money from stocks losing value 0:46

Short sellers have racked up huge gains by betting against the prices of companies like Tesla, Amazon, Visa, Boeing and Delta.

“When the markets rebound as the coronavirus effect wanes, we will probably see a pullback in short selling in some of these names as shorts cover to realize their profits,” S3 said.

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