TORONTO — The Toronto stock market tumbled more than 100 points Thursday as energy stocks sold off and crude prices plunged to multi-year lows — below US$70 a barrel — after the OPEC cartel decided not to cut oil production.The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 115.97 points to 14,922.44. Trading volumes were lower than usual with American markets closed for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.The energy sector lost seven per cent while the January crude contract was down $4.64 to a 4 1/2 year low of US$69.05 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange late in the afternoon. Major decliners included Pengrowth Energy (TSX:PGF) and Precision Drilling (TSX:PD) , both down almost 13 per cent.There had been hopes that OPEC oil ministers meeting in Vienna would cut production in order to put a floor under prices that have fallen about 30 per cent since mid-summer, when they were elevated by geopolitical worries. Prices have steadily fallen since then because of a strengthening greenback, lower demand prospects and, mainly, a glut of oil.But OPEC will keep its production unchanged at 30 million barrels a day and that means bad news for the TSX energy sector, now down about 14 per cent year to date.“In the short term, it’s so challenging,” said Norman Raschkowan, senior partner at Sage Road Advisers, who said he believes some of the smaller players are particularly exposed.“We will get to a spot where (dividend cuts) start to happen and especially with some of the smaller and more speculative names whose share prices were being supported almost exclusively by their dividends. Their distribution probably exceeds their cash flow and they have to think about cutting — and if they don’t think about it, their bankers will.”Lower oil prices are starting to bite into Canadian provincial finances. The Alberta government now expects a barrel of oil to trade at an average of US$75 a barrel for the rest of the fiscal year ending next March. The energy sector generally accounts for about 25 per cent of the province’s total revenue. Tumbling oil prices pushed the Canadian dollar down 0.75 of a cent to 88.25 cents US.Gold prices also headed lower with February bullion off $7.10 to US$1,190.40 an ounce, pushing the gold sector down about one per cent.March copper was unchanged at US$2.95 a pound and the mining sector ticked 0.8 per cent lower. In the corporate front, Rio Tinto said Thursday that it has approved a plan to spend US$350 million over four years to expand its Diavik diamond mine in Canada. Rio Tinto holds a 60 per cent stake in the Diavik joint venture, while Dominion Diamond Corp. (TSX:DDC) holds the remaining 40 per cent. Dominion Diamond gained 39 cents to $18.65.Other sectors lending support to the TSX included industrials and financials, both ahead 0.5 cent. read more

They are stories often told — of seniors who have fallen while completing seemingly simple tasks around the house.It’s not uncommon for those falls to be attributed to age without a second thought of why they actually occurred.As people age, anxiety and a fear of falling influences the way they move their bodies. If they stiffen up or have poor posture, it may increase their likelihood of falling during voluntary movements.This is the focus of research conducted by Angel Phanthanourak, a Master of Science in Applied Health Sciences student and NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Science, Action! competition candidate.“I became interested in the topic of anticipatory postural adjustments after I learned that adjustments we make to our posture to prevent a loss of balance become less efficient with aging,” Phanthanourak said.“The reductions in these protective adjustments may in part be a result of elevated anxiety and fear related to their balance — feelings prevalent in frail, older adults.”By observing her grandparents, Phanthanourak has witnessed firsthand how debilitating these elevated levels of anxiety and their consequences can be.The frailer her grandparents became the less willing they were to engage in social gatherings, she explained. They were nervous to complete everyday activities from a fear of falling.It is this avoidance of activities that has left her grandmother in a more fragile state than ever before and at risk of experiencing a fall.Inspired by her grandmother and the challenges she has encountered, Phanthanourak created a 60-second video on her research and submitted it to NSERC’s Science, Action! nationwide competition.Her entry, along with three others submitted by Brock students, made it into the Top 40 and is in the race to make the finals.The 25 videos with the most views on YouTube between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28 will proceed to the final round, where a panel of judges will select the winners.Phanthanourak has received scholarships throughout her academic career, which has allowed her to focus on learning and contributing to research, rather than concentrating only on her finances. “Winning the Science, Action! competition would further reduce the financial burdens associated with continuing graduate studies, allowing me to continue contributing to research in a productive manner,” she said.Throughout Phanthanourak’s undergraduate and graduate studies, Associate Professor Craig Tokuno has played an important role in developing her love of research.As her thesis supervisor, Tokuno has worked with Phanthanourak closely and recognizes the importance of her research on a larger scale. “Over the years, I have been extremely fortunate to have supervised many motivated and independent students, but Angel’s research abilities and enthusiasm toward research are unparalleled,” Tokuno said.The results of her research will “give us a better understanding of how and why an individual’s ability to maintain body stability changes or deteriorates with age,” he said.“Long term, the results of Angel’s studies may lead to new rehabilitation or balance training strategies for clinicians such as physical therapists, kinesiologists and neurologists.”To watch Phanthanourak’s video and support her in the NSERC’s Science, Action! competition, watch Fear of Falls below. The 15 competition finalists will be announced no later than April 5.Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of four stories profiling the four Brock University students in the running to win the NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Science, Action! competition. All four videos are available for viewing on a recent article published in The Brock News. read more