Health-Care Anchors TSX Lower

Dominion Diamond Still Commands Attention

Stocks began the first week of spring on a negative note, as prices for health-care issues overshadowed a sturdy climb by Dominion Diamond.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index dropped 48.17 points to close Monday at 15,442.32

The Canadian dollar lost 0.10 cents to 74.89 cents U.S.

In the health-care field, Canopy Growth gave back 36 cents, or 3.4%, to $10.30, while Valeant Pharmaceuticals retreated 52 cents, or 3.5%, to $14.20.

In the telecom sector, BCE took a beating of 74 cents, or 1.3%, to $57.56, while Rogers Communications crawled back 36 cents to $56.00.

Among consumer staples, Loblaw Companies dipped 16 cents to $70.68, while Empire Company dropped 16 cents to $18.41.

Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold producer, rose 32 cents, or 1.3% to $25.46 as gold prices scaled a two-week peak. Smaller miner Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd added 96 cents, or 1.7% to $57.46.

Materials forged higher, as Dominion Diamond shares jumped $3.06, or 23.2% to $16.27 after Washington Companies said on Sunday it had previously made a proposal to acquire the mining company for $18.03 ($13.50 U.S.) a share.

Manulife Financial fell 12 cents to $24.01 and Bank of Montreal declined 91 cents to $100.05.

Canadian Natural Resources slipped 62 cents, or 1.4% to $43.04, and Crescent Point Energy declined three cents to $14.28.

On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported that wholesale sales rose 3.3% to a record high $59.1 billion in January. This was the largest monthly percentage gain since November 2009, when the figure jumped 3.8%.

The agency added sales were up in four of seven sub-sectors, representing 55% of total wholesale sales.


The TSX Venture Exchange gained 1.04 points to 811.63

All but two of the 12 TSX subgroups were negative on the day, as health-care tailed off 1.1%, telecoms shed 0.9%, and consumer staples dipped 0.5%.

The two gainers were gold, up 1.4%, and materials, improving 0.8%.


Equities south of the border closed mixed on Monday, with utilities lagging, while investors turned their eyes to comments from several Federal Reserve officials.

The Dow Jones Industrials moved into the red 8.08 points to 20,906.54, with Home Depot and Goldman Sachs contributing the most losses.

The S&P 500 doffed 4.78 points to 2,373.47, with utilities falling 0.9% to lead decliners.

The NASDAQ cleared breakeven by only 0.53 points to 5,907.82, as Apple reached a record high.

The U.S. central bank raised interest rates for the second time in three months last week, but the "dot plot" that shows each member's expectations for where rates will be in coming years changed little from the last meeting.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said the central bank will wait until June to decide on the next rate hike.

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari told the media he voted against a rate hike last week because he wanted to see more inflation in the U.S.

Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker told reporters that it's acceptable for inflation to overshoot the Fed's inflation target as the labour market tightens.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note gained slightly, lowering yields to 2.47% from Friday’s 2.5%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices sank 51 cents to $48.27 U.S. a barrel

Gold prices gained $4.40 to $1,234.60 U.S. an ounce.