Stocks in Canada’s largest market dawdled Wednesday, over uncertainty created by the resignation of Gary Cohn, top economic adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, which intensified investor worries over a global trade war.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index slumped 72.58 points to close Wednesday at 15,742.61
The Canadian dollar gained 0.25 cents to 77.47 cents U.S.
The shares of trade-sensitive auto parts companies lost ground. Magna International Inc fell 22 cents to $67.73
Gold staggered, as Barrick Gold dipped 19 cents, or 1.2%, to $15.09, while Kinross Gold slipped 13 cents, or 2.7%, to $4.68.
Health-care issues flopped as Canopy Growth fell $1.58, or 4.8%, to $31.35, while Aphria shed 50 cents, or 3.5%, to $13.70.
In materials, Canadian Zinc plunged half a cent, or 3.9%, to 12.5 cents, while First Quantum loosed 21 cents, or 1%, to $20.59.
Tech stocks bucked the general gloomy pattern, as Constellation Software climbed toward the constellations $11.97, or 1.4%, to $873.76, while BlackBerry added 10 cents to $16.13.
The Bank of Canada did as expected Wednesday, maintaining its trendsetting rate at 1.25%.
Statistics Canada’s trade report showed this country’s merchandise trade deficit totaled $1.9 billion in January, narrowing from a $3.1-billion deficit in December. Imports decreased 4.3% and exports fell 2.1%.
The TSX Venture Exchange gave back 11.63 points, or 1.4%, to 831.94
All but three of the 12 TSX subgroups lost ground on the day, as gold dulled in price 2.1%, health-care settled 1.9%, and materials dipped 1.2%
The three gainers were information technology, up 0.9%, real-estate, ahead 0.5%, and telecoms, inching up 0.1%.
Stocks closed well off session lows on Wednesday after the White House hinted Canada and Mexico could be exempt from tariffs proposed by President Donald Trump.
The Dow Jones Industrials finished negative 82.76 points to 24,801.36, after falling more than 300 points.
The S&P 500 came off its lows and lost only 1.32 points to 2,726.80. Real estate and tech were the best-performing sectors.
The NASDAQ composite Index gained 24.64 points to 7,396.65, hitting a session high in late-afternoon trade, as shares of Facebook rose 2.2%, and Alphabet took on 1.3%.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the plan could include carve-outs for Mexico and Canada, two key U.S. trade partners.
Trump is expected to release more details on his tariffs plan on Thursday or Friday.
Stocks fell sharply earlier on news that Trump's top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, had resigned after the president proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Cohn, the free trade advocate and former president at Goldman Sachs, chose to step down from his position after Trump announced that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Cohn's departure date is expected to come in the following weeks.
Shares of big metal users like General Motors and Boeing fell on the back of the announcement. Both stocks fell more than 1% before closing 0.5% lower. Caterpillar traded more than 2% lower before ending the session down 1.5%.
In corporate news, Shares of H&R Block rose 11.5% after the company reported a smaller-than-expected loss for the previous quarter. The company said in a release it had a "strong tax season."
Meanwhile, design software maker Autodesk posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss, sending its stock surging by 14.9%.
In economic news, ADP and Moody's Analytics said private-sector jobs grew by 235,000 in February, surpassing an estimate of 195,000. The report is seen as a preview to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly jobs report, which is scheduled to be released Friday.
Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note lost ground, raising yields back to Tuesday’s 2.88%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices gave back $1.20 a barrel to $61.40 U.S.
Gold prices weakened $8.90 at $1,326.30 U.S. an ounce.