TSX Flat by Noon

Health-care, Communications Down


Canadian stocks took a breather from early gains by noon ET Thursday, as slumping health-care and communications stocks weighed on markets

The S&P/TSX Composite Index dipped 1.7 points by midday to 14,781.36

The Canadian dollar regained 0.01 cents to 74.92 U.S.

Empire Co Ltd rose 6.9%, the most on the sector, after the company reported second-quarter results that topped analysts' expectations.

The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was AltaGas Ltd, which jumped 14.2% after the company said it would sell its indirect stake in hydroelectric projects in Northwest British Columbia for about $1.39 billion.

Aphria Inc fell 6%, the most on the TSX, and the second-biggest decliner was Alamos Gold Inc, down 4.6%

On the economic front, Statistics Canada’s new housing price was unchanged on a national basis for a third month in a row. In October, new home buyers in 16 of the 27 census metropolitan areas surveyed saw flat or lower prices.

Prices at the national level have remained largely unchanged since November 2017.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange sank 2.37 points to 559.87.

Eight of the 12 TSX subgroups had lurched lower by noon, as health-care settled 3.1%, communications stumbled 0.8%, and consumer discretionary stocks slid 0.5%.

The four gainers were led by utilities, up 1.1%, consumer staples, gaining 0.6%, and real-estate, better by 0.4%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks seesawed on Thursday as investors digested the recent developments surrounding the ongoing U.S.-China trade war in what has been a very volatile week for Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average remained positive 28.38 points to 24,555.65, as Caterpillar outperformed.

The S&P 500 fell 4.83 points to 2,646.24, teetering around correction territory.

The NASDAQ dropped 39.68 points to 7,058.63, as Facebook, Amazon and Netflix gave up their initial gains.

General Electric shares jumped more than 10% after J.P. Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa, a longtime bear on the company, upgraded GE.

Market participants are gradually becoming more optimistic about the prospect of the U.S. and China reaching a comprehensive trade agreement. It follows a flurry of news this week pointing to cooling tensions between the two global powers.

On Wednesday, media reports circulated that Chinese state-owned companies had at least 500,000 tons of U.S. soybeans. It was the first major U.S. soybean purchases in more than six months, and the clearest sign to date that China plans to step up efforts to support its slowing economy.

Prices for the benchmark for the 10-year U.S. Treasury were lower, raising yields to 2.91% from Wednesday’s 2.91%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions

Oil prices gained 75 cents to $51.90 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices dipped $2.60 to $1,247.40 U.S. an ounce.