TSX Flat on U.S.-Sino Uncertainty

Golds on March

Equities in Canada’s largest market opened lower on Friday, pressured by energy stocks which tracked falling oil prices and escalating tensions between the United States and China.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index demurred 3.15 points, to 14,881.70.

China is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong after last year's pro-democracy unrest, a Chinese official said on Thursday, drawing a warning from U.S. President Donald Trump that Washington would react "very strongly" against the attempt to gain more control over the former British colony.

Jefferies cut the rating on Aurora Cannabis to underperform. Aurora shares faded $1.79, or 7.4%, to $22.31.

National Bank of Canada cut the rating on Kirkland Lake Gold to sector perform from outperform. Kirkland Lake Gold shares gained $1.12, or 2.1%, to $55.53.

National also raised the rating on New Gold to outperform from sector perform. New Gold shares picked up 12 cents, or 7.6%, to $1.70.

National then cut the rating on Yamana Gold to sector perform from outperform. Yamana shares hiked 20 cents, or 2.7%, to $7.56.

On the economic ledger, Statistics Canada reported retail trade fell for the first time in five months, plunging 10.0% to $47.1 billion in March. This marked the largest drop on record and the lowest level since November 2016.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange regained 2.59 points to 531.81.

Seven of the 12 TSX subgroups made improvement, with gold brightening 2.1%, materials ahead 1.9%, and information technology more solid 1.5%.

The five laggards were weighed most by energy, down 2.1%, health-care , sliding 1%, and financials off 0.9%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks dipped on Friday as tensions between China and the U.S. offset the increasing optimism around a potential coronavirus vaccine.

The Dow Jones Industrials lost another 139.54 points to move into the final session before a long weekend at 24,334.58.

The S&P 500 docked 10.19 points to 2,938.32.

The NASDAQ ducked 13.38 points to 9,271.50.

Monday, markets in the U.S. will be shuttered for Memorial Day.

The 30-stock blue-chip index was up more than 3% week to date and was headed for its biggest one-week gain since the week of April 9.

The S&P 500 has gained nearly 3% this week while the NASDAQ Composite is up 3% in that time.

Retailers such as TJX and Gap are among the best-performing stocks this week. TJX is up over 15% week to date while Gap advanced over 7%. Citgroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are also up more than 2% each this week.

Overnight, China released draft legislation over new national security measures on Hong Kong after last year’s burst of anti-government protests in the city. That law is expected to increase Beijing’s hold over Hong Kong. China also opted against setting a Gross Domestic
Product target for 2020 as the coronavirus batters the second-largest economy in the world.

Prices for the 10-Year Treasury gained ground, lowering yields to 0.65% from Thursday’s 0.68%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slid $1.48 to $32.44 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices picked up $14.10 to $1,736 U.S. an ounce.