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With equity issuance plunging this year, Canadian capital markets have been caught in the down draft, according to new data from Refinitiv.

Through the first nine months of the year, total equity issuance is down 72% from last year to just $11.5 billion in 183 deals, the firm reported.

This represents the weakest total for the January through September period since 1995, Refinitiv said.

However, amid the overall weakness this year, the third quarter was the strongest, with $4.5 billion in new issue activity.

The drop in equity underwriting activity throughout the first nine months this year was evident across most categories. Secondary offering activity was down 70% year over year, retail structured product issuance was down 69% and preferred securities was down by 83%.

Debt market activity also declined year over year, Refinitiv said. Through the first nine months, total debt issuance (excluding self-funded deals) was down 27% from last year, totalling $134.1 billion.

Corporate debt issuance has been particularly weak this year, with activity dropping 44% from the same period last year.

The drop in underwriting activity has, of course, filtered down to the investment dealers, shaking up the industry league tables.

On the debt side, National Bank Financial (NBF) topped the underwriter rankings on the strength of its leadership in government issuance, which accounted for just over half of total issuance.

NBF was followed by RBC Capital Markets, BMO Capital Markets and CIBC World Markets in the debt underwriting league tables, with Scotia rounding out the top five.

On the equity side, RBC ranked first among underwriters, trailed by Scotia, BMO, TD Securities Inc. and CIBC.