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Avoiding the stock market will likely hinder your retirement goals – BNNBloomberg.ca

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News that stock markets are hitting new highs isn’t news at all. They’ve been hitting new highs for over a decade and before that they hit new highs. Over the long-term, they have always gone up. 

All those highs can be problematic for long-term investors adhering to the ‘buy low, sell high’ principle, and sitting on the sidelines waiting for the next big market correction. Keeping a large chunk of savings in cash or fixed income is not an option for most Canadians who want to retire comfortably. Cash generates close to zero returns over time and two per cent is a stretch for safe, fixed-income investments like bonds. 

Most retirement plans are based on an assumption that equity returns in the upper single digits will compound over time. That won’t happen for investors waiting for the lows to be low enough.

Being skittish about putting your retirement savings at risk is perfectly natural. Psychologists consider it a behavioural bias called loss aversion. Deep in the back of our minds, the pain of losing money is disproportionately stronger than the pleasure from gaining it, putting fear ahead of reason.

A recent study on loss aversion by Sun Life Financial attempted to quantify this bias in terms of dollars, by asking people how much they would need to gain in relation to the amount they would risk losing. The study found most respondents would not risk losing $100 if the potential gain was only $100. More agreed to take the risk as the potential gain increased. It found most investors would only risk the $100 if the potential gain was doubled. 

Much of today’s loss-aversion sentiment could be rooted in the global market meltdown of 2008, which can also serve as a worst-case scenario since it was the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In both cases, losses were devastating, but markets eventually recovered and investors who overcame their fear and held steady recouped their losses.

Long-term charts of the benchmark S&P 500 and S&P/TSX composite index show steady gains in the decades before 2008. The S&P 500 lost half its value between October 2007 when the meltdown began and its March 2009 bottom. By October 2013, the S&P 500 topped its pre-meltdown high and has since doubled from there – as if the meltdown never even happened.

The plunge was much quicker and the recovery much slower for the TSX, which lost nearly half its value between June 2008 and February 2009. It wasn’t until June 2014 that the TSX topped its pre-meltdown high. It has since rallied an additional 20 per cent.

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That’s not to say the next big correction won’t be tomorrow, but it’s a fact of life that most of us need to invest to retire comfortably and getting there usually requires taking a leap of faith in the equity markets. As the mandatory investment industry disclaimer says: “past returns are not an indication of future performance.” Investors cannot control the broader markets but there are hedging strategies that can help cushion the blows and outpace the highs, which are outlined below.

  • Dollar cost averaging: Making regular contributions over time smooths out entry points in fluctuating markets. It allows investors to buy into stocks as they rise, and buy stocks that are down at a discount.
  • Income-generating investments: Two per cent isn’t much of a return for fixed-income investments like bonds, but it does generate reliable returns in times of stock market volatility. Portfolios should have a fixed-income component that grows proportionally as the investor nears retirement and needs to withdraw cash. Stocks that pay reliable dividends are also a good source of income regardless of equity market conditions.
  • Diversification: Spreading your equity investments among sectors and geographic regions can limit risk and open up your portfolio to opportunity. We often tend to look at stock markets as a whole but there are a lot of parts that move in different directions.
  • Buying the best of the best: Most stocks get swept up in market advances and declines but the best ones tend to lose less on the downside and gain more on the upside. Finding the best stocks means doing your homework, getting professional investment advice –  or both.

Payback Time is a weekly column by personal finance columnist Dale Jackson about how to prepare your finances for retirement. Have a question you want answered? Email dalejackson.paybacktime@gmail.com.  

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All trading on TSX halted due to order entry issue – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Thursday, February 27, 2020 2:16PM EST


Last Updated Thursday, February 27, 2020 11:30PM EST

TORONTO – Trading abruptly ended early Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange and several other TMX Group Ltd. markets after the company suspended the exchanges because of what it says were technical issues.

The trading halts, which came a over than two hours before the scheduled close, came on another day of sharp losses on fears of the novel coronavirus’s effect on global economic growth.

The TSX fell as much as 585 points and was down 325 points, or 1.9 per cent, when it was halted, while U.S. markets fell more than four per cent.

The company said it halted the markets because clients were unable to enter, modify or cancel open orders on TSX, TSXV and Alpha exchanges, and it had also halted its derivatives-focused Montreal Exchange.

“We apologize for the inconvenience,” the company said in a statement. “Due to the nature of the issue, TMX was unable to engage disaster recovery systems in time to ensure an orderly market re-open and closing session.”

The company said the interruption was caused by a system capacity issue within the messaging technology component of TMX’s trading engine.

TMX said it has taken measures to mitigate the risk of recurrence, including significantly increasing the capacity of this component.

“TMX confirms that this incident was not the result of a cybersecurity attack,” the company said in a release. “TMX also confirms that all systems are ready for the start of business on Friday.”

The halts came shortly before 2 p.m. and TMX confirmed at 3:17 p.m. that they would remain closed for the day. It has not yet said when the exchanges will reopen.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Martin Pelletier, managing director and portfolio manager at Wellington-Altus Private Counsel Inc. “You’re looking at what’s happening in the U.S., and not being able to do anything in Canada.”

Pelletier said he still had access to alternative markets like the NEO Exchange in Toronto, but they don’t have the same liquidity.

“Alternative markets were open, but it makes it very difficult for the average investor to rebalance, or even their adviser to work within their existing portfolio.”

Laura Lau, chief investment officer at Brompton Funds, said the glitch wasn’t great for Canada’s image.

“It’s not good for our reputation, certainly a black eye.”

She said the TSX would likely catch up to what Canadian stocks were trading at on the alternative markets when trading resumes, but those who wanted to sell Thursday were out of luck.

“When markets close for a holiday, they tend to catch up the next day. It’s more of an issue if you wanted to say, sell for cash, and you were going to do it in the last two hours of the day.”

The last time TMX closed the TSX early was on April 27, 2018, due to internal technical issues, and reopened the market on the next trading day.

The 2018 incident was caused by a hardware failure in a central storage appliance of the trading system, the company said.

At the time, then company CEO Lou Eccleston said the company was committed to applying the lessons learned from this incident to help it prevent such issues from recurring in the future.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2020.

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Dow Jones sinks nearly 1,200 points amid coronavirus worries, worst 1-day drop since 2011 – Global News

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Worldwide markets plummeted again Thursday, deepening a weeklong rout triggered by growing anxiety that the coronavirus will wreak havoc on the global economy. The sweeping selloff gave U.S. stocks their worst one-day drop since 2011.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled nearly 1,200 points. The S&P 500 has now plunged 12% from the all-time high it set just a week ago.

That puts the index in what market watchers call a “correction,” which some analysts have said was long overdue in this bull market, the longest in history.

Stocks are now headed for their worst week since October 2008, during the global financial crisis.


READ MORE:
Toronto stock exchange halts trading over technical issue, says systems ‘ready’ for Friday

The losses extended a slide that has wiped out the solid gains major indexes posted early this year.

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Investors came into 2020 feeling confident that the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates at low levels and the U.S.-China trade war posed less of a threat to company profits after the two sides reached a preliminary agreement in January. Even in the early days of the outbreak, markets took things in stride.






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But over the past two weeks, a growing list of major companies issued warnings that profits could suffer as factory shutdowns across China disrupt supply chains and consumers there refrain from shopping.

Travel to and from China is severely restricted, and shares of airlines, hotels and cruise operators have been punished in stock markets. As the virus spread beyond China, markets feared the economic issues in China could escalate globally.

One sign of that is the big decline in oil prices, which slumped on expectations that demand will tail off sharply.

“This is a market that’s being driven completely by fear,” said Elaine Stokes, portfolio manager at Loomis Sayles, with market movements following the classic characteristics of a fear trade: Stocks are down. Commodities are down, and bonds are up.

Bond prices soared again Thursday as investors fled to safe investments. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell as low as 1.246%, a record low, according to TradeWeb. When yields fall, it’s a sign that investors are feeling less confident about the strength of the economy.

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COVID-19: U.S. stocks plunge as global outbreak continues

Stokes said the swoon reminded her of the market’s reaction following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Eventually we’re going to get to a place where this fear, it’s something that we get used to living with, the same way we got used to living with the threat of living with terrorism,” she said. “But right now, people don’t know how or when we’re going to get there, and what people do in that situation is to retrench.”

The virus has now infected more than 82,000 people globally and is worrying governments with its rapid spread beyond the epicenter of China.


READ MORE:
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Japan will close schools nationwide to help control the spread of the new virus. Saudi Arabia banned foreign pilgrims from entering the kingdom to visit Islam’s holiest sites. Italy has become the center of the outbreak in Europe, with the spread threatening the financial and industrial centers of that nation.

At their heart, stock prices rise and fall with the profits that companies make. And Wall Street’s expectations for profit growth are sliding away. Apple and Microsoft, two of the world’s biggest companies, have already said their sales this quarter will feel the economic effects of the virus.

Goldman Sachs on Thursday said earnings for companies in the S&P 500 index might not grow at all this year, after predicting earlier that they would grow 5.5%. Strategist David Kostin also cut his growth forecast for earnings next year.

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Besides a sharply weaker Chinese economy in the first quarter of this year, he sees lower demand for U.S. exporters, disruptions to supply chains and general uncertainty eating away at earnings growth.

Such cuts are even more impactful now because stocks are already trading at high levels relative to their earnings, raising the risk. Before the virus worries exploded, investors had been pushing stocks higher on expectations that strong profit growth was set to resume for companies after declining for most of 2019.

The S&P 500 recently traded at its most expensive level, relative to its expected earnings per share, since the dot-com bubble was deflating in 2002, according to FactSet. If profit growth doesn’t ramp up this year, that makes a highly priced stock market even more vulnerable.


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Goldman Sach’s Kostin predicted the S&P 500 could fall to 2,900 in the near term, which would be a nearly 7% drop from Wednesday’s close, before rebounding to 3,400 by the end of the year.

Traders are growing increasingly certain that the Federal Reserve will be forced to cut interest rates to protect the economy, and soon. They are pricing in a 96% probability of a cut at the Fed’s next meeting in March. Just a day before, they were calling for only a 33% chance, according to CME Group.

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The market’s sharp drop this week partly reflects increasing fears among many economists that the U.S. and global economies could take a bigger hit from the coronavirus than they previously thought.






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Coronavirus fears wipe billions of dollars off China’s stock market

Earlier assumptions that the impact would largely be contained in China and would temporarily disrupt manufacturing supply chains have been overtaken by concerns that as the virus spreads, more people in numerous countries will stay home, either voluntarily or under quarantine. Vacations could be canceled, restaurant meals skipped, and fewer shopping trips taken.

“A global recession is likely if COVID-19 becomes a pandemic, and the odds of that are uncomfortably high and rising with infections surging in Italy and Korea,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

The market rout will also likely weaken Americans’ confidence in the economy, analysts say, even among those who don’t own shares. Such volatility can worry people about their own companies and job security. In addition, Americans that do own stocks feel less wealthy.

Both of those trends can combine to discourage consumer spending and slow growth.

AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise and Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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TSX halt leaves traders, investors in limbo on one of the busiest trading days of the year – The Globe and Mail

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Trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange and other exchanges owned by TMX Group Ltd. came to an abrupt halt on Thursday afternoon, leaving traders and investors in limbo on one of the busiest trading days of the year.

Shortly before 2:00 p.m., TMX ordered a “technical halt” for the TSX, TSX-Venture Exchange and the Alpha Exchange, due to a “problem with order entry.” Derivatives trading on the Montreal Stock Exchange, which is owned by TMX, was also halted.

“Clients are currently unable to enter, modify or cancel open orders,” the exchange said in a statement, shortly after the halt. A TMX spokesperson said the company was investigating the issue, but did not elaborate on what caused the order processing problem that prompted the shutdown.

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The spokesperson added that the company did not know whether trading would resume at a regular time on Friday.

Thursday’s stoppage came at a dramatic moment, cutting short a day of intense selling that saw the S&P/TSX Composite Index drop 323 points or 1.9 per cent as concern mounts about the economic impact of coronavirus.

For professional traders, the halt caused disarray as orders remained unfilled and trading positions were left open.

“If you’ve got an order out there on the TMX, and you can’t cancel it, we need to know how the system is going to be brought back to life. Is there a chance of a double fill, by selling too much or by buying too much? These are concerns that people need to be cognizant of,” said Pete Gombocz, managing director of Velocity Trade Capital Ltd.

The TMX Group said in a statement that prior to re-opening the exchange, it will “provide sufficient time in a pre-open state for participants to manage their orders”

As Canada’s largest exchanges shut down, traders began routing their trades through smaller exchanges such as the NEO Exchange, and through alternative trading systems such as Omega and Chi-X. This took some of the pressure off the build-up of un-executed orders. However, far fewer shares trade hands on these smaller exchanges, making access to liquidity a challenge.

“The ability to enter and exit a trade is certainly hampered,” Mr. Gombocz said.

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The early shutdown caused additional problems for people trying to manage margin calls, said Anthony George, head trader at INFOR Financial Group Inc. A margin call happens when people have borrowed money to buy stock, and the price of the stock declines, meaning they have to put more money into the trading account to make up for the shortfall.

“There’s capital issues people have. You’re up against margin. And without the access to sell, to liquidity, you’re breaking the rule,” Mr. George said, referring to rules around margin requirements.

“Margin calls come out at 2:15, and the market was halted at 1:54… You can go to those other exchanges and sell 100 shares or 200 shares, but you’re not getting the same liquidity,” he said.

Order processing problems used to be a relatively frequent occurrence on the TSX, said Mr. Gombocz, who worked for the exchange in the 1990s and early 2000s, although things have improved in recent years.

“I think the system and the technology today has been built to withstand a lot more [volume] than they would see on an everyday basis, so those spikes that you would see in trading volumes and order flow, I think those have been factored into how they built their processing,” Mr. Gombocz said.

“It is technology, technology does break, but they’ve had a good track record,” he added.

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