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Dow falls almost 1,000 points, TSX, 500 to close as investors brace for ‘very, very painful’ coronavirus shutdown

The U.S. benchmark S&P 500 stock index fell more than 4 per cent on Wednesday after a dire warning on the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus sent investors running from even the most defensive equities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 973.65 points, or 4.44 per cent, to 20,943.51, the S&P 500 lost 114.09 points, or 4.41 per cent, to 2,470.5 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 339.52 points, or 4.41 per cent, to 7,360.58.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 3.8 per cent at 12,876.37, with shares of security software company BlackBerry Ltd falling nearly 18 per cent after dismal quarterly results.

Economic data showed U.S. manufacturing activity contracted less than expected in March, but disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic pushed new orders received by factories to an 11-year low, reinforcing economists’ views that the economy was in recession.

Also, business closures as authorities tried

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Israel’s health minister diagnosed with coronavirus By Reuters

© Reuters. Israel’s Netanyahu holds meeting on coronavirus in Tel Aviv

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israel’s health minister and his wife were diagnosed with coronavirus and are in isolation following guidelines, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Yaakov Litzman, 71, an ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has appeared regularly alongside the premier to provide updates on the spread of the pandemic and new measures to combat it.

But Litzman has scaled back public appearances in recent weeks and the ministry’s director-general has held daily briefings instead.

Litzman and his wife feel well, the ministry said in a statement.

“(An) epidemiological investigation will be carried out, and isolation requests will be sent to those who have come into contact with (him) and his wife in the past two weeks.”

Netanyahu tested negative for the virus on Monday after a parliamentary aide was confirmed to have it. The right-wing premier,

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Everything you need to know about the new 401(k) no-penalty withdrawals in the CARES Act

Subscribe to Outbreak, a daily roundup of stories on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on global business, delivered free to your inbox.

It sounds awfully tempting.

As part of the CARES Act passed last week, some of the strictest rules about taking money out of your 401(k) are being temporarily lifted to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic. But the changes drew some mixed reviews from financial planners. While the added flexibility may help some ride out the crisis, there was plenty of hand-wringing that the distribution limits were too high, and that people affected by coronavirus might be tempted to take out huge sums now—and, as a result, either put their eventual retirements in jeopardy or possibly leave themselves with a big tax bill.

Here’s a drill-down on what’s changed, and some guidance on how to approach your 401(k) in the wake of these changes. … Read More

Oil stocks surge after Keystone deal, but sector isn’t out of the woods yet

The Canadian energy sector has offered its investors little in the way of hope since a global oil price war made the price of a barrel of the country’s crude cheaper than a pint of beer, forcing companies to slash dividends and threatening the continuity of others.

But amid a torrent of bad news, the energy sector was quietly rallying as the S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index had gained more than 34 per cent in nearly two weeks. So when it finally delivered good news on Tuesday, investors loudly voiced their excitement in the form of investment dollars.

TC Energy Corp. announced that it will be going ahead with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in early April after the Alberta government bought a US$1.1 billion equity stake in the project and said it would be providing another US$6 billion through a loan guarantee.

On the back of that news,

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Cuba suspends arrival of international flights to stop coronavirus By Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba said on Tuesday it was suspending the arrival of international passenger flights and asking all foreign boats to withdraw from the Caribbean island’s waters to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Cuba, which has confirmed 186 cases of the fast-spreading disease, partially closed its borders last week, banning the arrival of foreign tourists and the departure of Cubans.

But Cubans and foreigners with Cuban residency continued to return on a dwindling number of flights, although they were required to spend two weeks in quarantine at state isolation centres. The new measures appear to close that door.

“We need to eliminate the arrival of passengers who continue to pose a risk to people’s health,” state television showed Prime Minister Manuel Marrero saying during a high-level crisis response meeting.

Marrero clarified that Cuba would remain open for commerce and donations.

Cuba first reported cases of the new

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Coronavirus finances: What to do when your bills are due

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