After opening on a firm note on positive global cues, the Canadian stock market retreated and slipped into negative territory Thursday morning, and was up marginally a little past noon on finding some support at lower levels.
Optimism about U.S.-China trade deal and monetary easing by China’s central bank set up a firm start for the market.
Profit taking and weak manufacturing activity data contributed to market’s fall from higher levels.
The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index, which rose to 17,164.55 in early trades, was down 2.52 points, or 0.02%, at 17,060.91 a few minutes past noon.
Shares from the healthcare section drifted lower. Energy stocks retreated as well. Materials, consumer staples and financial shares were also a bit weak, while a few stocks from information technology, consumer discretionary and financial sections were up in positive territory.
Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO), Canopy Growth Corp (WEED.TO) and Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) declined 2.8 to 3.7%. Cronos Group (CRON.TO) shed about 1.2% and Bausch Health Companies (BHC.TO) was down nearly 1%.
In the energy section, ARC Resources (ARX.TO), Enerplus Corp (ERF.TO), Tourmaline Oil Corp (TOU.TO) and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) were down 1.6 to 2%.
Baytex Energy (BTE.TO), Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) and Husky Energy (HSE.TO) were trading notably higher.
In the materials section, Methanex Corp (MX.TO), Canfor Corp (CFP.TO), MAG Silver Corp (MAG.TO), Nutrien (NTR.TO) and Ssr Mining (SSRM.TO) lost 1 to 3%, while Hudbay Minerals (HBM.TO), Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO), Teck Resources (TECK.B.TO), Kinross Gold (K.TO) and First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) gained 1.2 to 2%.
Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO) were among the notable gainers in the financial space.
Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) gained about 0.5%. The bank announced on Wednesday that it has completed the previously announced sale of its banking operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Oriental Bank, a subsidiary of OFG Bancorp.
In the technology space, Enghouse Systems (ENGH.TO) gained about 2.3%. The company announced it has acquired Dialogic Group Inc. for a purchase price of approximately $52.0 million. Dialogic’s revenue over the next twelve months is projected to be between $58.0 million and $63.0 million.
On the economic front, a report from Markit Economics said the IHS Markit Canada Manufacturing PMI dropped to 50.4 in December 2019 from 51.4 in the previous month and short of expectations for a reading of 51.9. It was the lowest reading since August.
In trade news, U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this week that the trade deal is due to be signed during a White House ceremony on January 15th.
Trump said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday that he would travel to Beijing at a later date to begin talks on phase two of a trade agreement.
Recent reports have indicated Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing’s top trade negotiator, will be on hand to sign the phase one deal.
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