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Coronavirus: TSX, Wall Street inch higher, market volatility at record high

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North American stocks opened slightly higher on Friday, in what is still the market’s worst month in three decades, as intervention by U.S. and Canadian policymakers finally seemed to stem the financial market panic over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 165.96 points, or 0.83 per cent, at the open to 20,253.15. The S&P 500 opened higher by 22.55 points, or 0.94 per cent, at 2,431.94, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 97.49 points, or 1.36 per cent, to 7,248.07 at the opening bell.

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In Toronto, the benchmark S&P/TSX composite index was up 201.29 points to 12,372.00 at 9:50 a.m. ET.

The Canadian dollar was trading at 70.18 cents US compared to an average of 68.99 cents US on Thursday.

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Friday wraps a week of record volatility in financial markets across regions and asset classes, according to analysts at U.S. stock market index operator S&P Global.

The company, which runs Wall Street’s Dow Jones and S&P 500 indexes, said the only comparison for the past month’s sell-off on equity and other markets historically was the 2008 financial crash.

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All the main U.S. stock indexes have lost nearly 30 per cent since hitting record highs last month, with the benchmark S&P 500 off more than $8 trillion in value.

Analysts at S&P Global noted that over 7,500 trading days dating back to January 1990, five of the eight highest closing levels for CBOE’s volatility index, known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, occurred in the past week.

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“Only the peaks in volatility that occurred during the 2008 financial crisis saw anything similar,” said Tim Edwards, managing director of index investment strategy at S&P Global.

“Over its long history, the S&P 500 has moved a little under 1% each day, on average. With VIX currently standing at four times its long-term average of 20, daily moves in the S&P 500 of around 4 per cent are implied for the next month.

— With files from the Canadian Press and Erica Alini at Global News