TSX Suffers Slight Decline Thursday

Energy Fizzles, Health-Care Sizzles

Equities in Canada’s largest centre struggled their way toward the breakeven point Thursday, but fell just short as energy’s troubles weighed the numbers down somewhat.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index came off its lows of the day, but lagged Wednesday’s close by 8.95 points to conclude Thursday trading at 15,703.36

The Canadian dollar tumbled 0.48 cents to 75.19 cents U.S.

Health-care issues were again the champion of the day, as Canopy Growth accumulated 67 cents, or 1.1%, to $62.05, while Aurora Cannabis collected 34 cents, or 3.4%, to $10.32.

Among real-estate concerns, Brookfield Asset Management gained 41 cents to $58.09

In consumer staples, Restaurant Brands International nosed up 10 cents to $82.76, while Saputo jumped $1.58, or 4%, to $41.10.

Among energy issues, Nuvista Energy took a tumble of 30 cents, or 7.4%, to $3.76, while Suncor Energy lost 38 cents to $43.38.

Gold issues had a sub-par day, as Kinross Gold ditched a penny to $4.43, while Kirkland Lake Gold lost 40 cents to $43.34.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange fell 5.64 points to 614.88

Eight of the 12 TSX subgroups had climbed into positive values by the closing bell, with health-care up 1.2%, real-estate better by 1.1%, and consumer staples improving 0.8%.

The four laggards were weighed most by energy, subsiding 2.4%. consumer discretionaries, down 0.9%, and gold, trailing 0.1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks fell sharply on Thursday as it became clear that a trade meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping would not happen before a key March deadline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 220.77 points to 25,169.53, as Apple and DowDuPont led the decline.

The S&P 500 lost 25.56 points to 2,706.05, led lower by the energy and tech sectors.

The NASDAQ Composite slouched 86.93 points, or 1.2%, to 7,288.35.

Reports circulated throughout the day that a meeting between the two leaders was "highly unlikely." China and the U.S. have until the start of March to strike a trade deal. Otherwise, additional tariffs on Chinese goods take effect. The source said a meeting between Xi and Trump could happen shortly after the deadline passes, but noted both sides have too much work ahead of them.

Shares of Caterpillar and Deere both fell more than 1%. Boeing dropped 0.9%. These companies' stocks are seen as bellwethers for global trade given their exposure to overseas markets.

The market was already on edge as worries about the global economy were rekindled. The European Commission slashed its growth outlook for the euro zone this year as it expects the bloc's largest economies to be held back by global trade tensions, among other issues. The Commission said euro zone growth will slow to 1.3% this year from 1.9% in 2018, before rebounding in 2020 to 1.6%.

That growth outlook sparked worries that the global economy could be slowing down. Similar fears contributed to the market's sharp downturn in December. That decline briefly sent the S&P 500 into bear-market territory on an intraday basis.

The Bank of England also cut its 2019 outlook and sees the U.K. economy growing at its slowest pace since 2009.

Thursday's decline comes as the corporate earnings season continues. Twitter reported quarterly earnings that beat analyst expectations on Thursday. However, shares of the social media company fell 9.8% as Twitter also issued light guidance. Fiat Chrysler and Cardinal Health are also among the companies that reported better-than-expected earnings.

Companies are reporting solid earnings growth for the fourth quarter with profits showing an increase of 14.1% on a year-over-year basis. However, the outlooks accompanying those earnings reports are not as rosy.

Because of those poor forecasts, earnings for the first quarter of 2019 are expected to drop more than 1%. That's the first year-over-year decline in earnings in more than two years.

Shares of BB&T gained 4%, and SunTrust Banks flew 10.2%, bucking the overall negative trend. The two stocks rose after BB&T agreed to buy SunTrust for more than $28 billion. The deal — the biggest in a decade within the banking sector — creates a $66-billion company and the sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained ground, lowering yields to 2.66% from Wednesday’s 2.7%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices skidded $1.33 to $52.68 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices dropped 80 cents to $1,313.60 U.S. an ounce.