Investors continued to bail out of stocks on Thursday as global economic jitters had investors fleeing from equities and oil and heading to gold and bonds. 

The benchmark index of the Toronto Stock Exchange closed the trading day at 12,087, down 98 points, or 0.8 per cent. That was actually an improvement from earlier in the day, when it was down 200 points. Nine of the 10 sectors were down, led by financials. 

It's the fifth straight day the TSX has lost ground.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 255 points to close at 15,660, down 1.6 per cent. That too, represented a partial comeback from mid-afternoon, when the Dow was down more than 400 points.

The broader S&P 500 index touched its lowest point in two years before bouncing back somewhat after the Wall Street Journal reported that OPEC was ready to co-operate on production cuts.

An index of global stocks closed the day more than 20 per cent below its record high last May, satisfying the definition of a global bear market.
The MSCI all-country world equity index, which tracks equity shares in 45 countries, hit its lowest level in more than two and a half years and is now down 20.18 per cent from its all-time high close on May 21, 2015. 

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, says investors are fearful. "People don't know what's going on. There's a lot of uncertainty out there," he told CBC News. "Every time it seems the markets are hitting a low and bouncing, they end up going lower again."

Investors who fled equities turned to perceived safe areas like bonds and gold. Bullion futures jumped $53.20 US an ounce to $1,247.90 US.

"Gold's status as the ultimate safe haven asset has well and truly been confirmed, yet again," said Fawad Razaqzada, an analyst at

Oil briefly hits new 12-year low

Crude oil futures traded as low as $26.05 US a barrel during the day — a 12-year low — but managed to recover slightly to settle at $26.21 US, down $1.24. 

Oil Trains First Responders

The price of North America's benchmark crude oil dipped for a time Thursday to its lowest level in more than 12 years. (Matthew Brown/ Associated Press)

Prices subsequently rose above $27 US on the OPEC production cut report, but were still down from yesterday's close.

Ian Nakamoto, director of research at 3MACS, said investors have no idea how much lower oil prices will go.

"I'm trying to think: What is going to turn this around basically?" he said. "Obviously there has to be large supply response from one of the Middle Eastern countries but it doesn't seem to be happening any time soon. It's just a matter of confidence."

The Canadian dollar closed at 71.83 cents US, up .06 cents from Wednesday.

With files from Reuters and The Canadian Press