TSX Claims Moderate Gains

Aphria, Canopy Lead Parade

Stocks in Toronto staged a small rally – nothing spectacular, though -- as gains in health-care narrowly trumped losses in energy stocks.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 26.41 points to close Monday at 15,300.38

The Canadian dollar moved higher 0.12 cents to 79.55 cents U.S.

The big winners were in health-care, and one of the biggest percentage gainers on the TSX was medical marijuana producer Aphria Inc, which rose 83 cents, or 7.3%, to $12.23, after reporting quarterly results. Rival Canopy Growth rocketed $1.09, or 3.7%, to $30.93.

Tech stocks such as Constellation Software surged $24.38, or 2.8%, to $882.18.

The industrial sector also advanced, boosted by a 94-cent rise in shares – or 1%, of Canadian National Railway to $94.70. Aveda
Transportation and Energy Services ballooned 42 cents, or 79.3%, to 95 cents.

Canadian Natural Resources fell 77 cents, or 1.7%, to $43.53, and shares of Vermilion Energy Inc fell $1.24, or 2.8%, to $42.80 after the oil and gas producer said it would buy rival Spartan Energy Corp in a $1.40-billion deal.

Gold took some knocks, though, as Barrick Gold surrendered 20 cents, or 1.2%, to $16.39, while Goldcorp doffed five cents to $18.07.

Among materials, Confederation Minerals skidded 1.3% to 38.5 cents, while Falco Resources dropped a penny, or 1.3%, to 74 cents.

On the economic front, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported that home sales via Canadian MLS Systems edged up 1.3% from February to March 2018.

CREA added that, despite having improved marginally in March, national sales activity in the first quarter slid to the lowest quarterly level since the first quarter of 2014.


The TSX Venture Exchange advanced 6.02 points to 801.96

All but three of the 12 TSX subgroups were higher to conclude the session, with health-care triumphing 1.9%, while industrials and utilities were each ahead 0.7%.

The three laggards proved to be energy, sputtering 1.5%, gold, down 0.6%, and materials, off 0.3%.


U.S. stocks rose on Monday as fears of an escalating conflict in Syria eased for the moment, while some of the biggest U.S. companies reported strong quarterly results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average skyrocketed 212.90 points to 24,573.04, with Merck helping lead the gains in the index.

The S&P 500 strengthened 21.54 points to 2,677.84, with materials and telecommunications as the best-performing sectors

The NASDAQ Composite index gained 49.63 points to 7,156.29

Investors also kept an eye on corporate earnings after Bank of America reported better-than-expected quarterly results. The bank's earnings were helped by loan growth and lower corporate taxes. Bank of America shares rose 0.4%.

J.B Hunt Transport rose more than 6% on the back of a stronger-than-expected quarterly revenue, led by a 14% jump in Intermodal sales, its largest segment. The stock was the best-performing stock in both the S&P 500 and Dow industrials.

The earnings season is off to a good start thus far. Last week, BlackRock, J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup reported better-than-expected earnings. Netflix is scheduled to release its quarterly results Monday after the close.

Wall Street has high expectations for this earnings season, with analysts expecting a 17.3% increase in first-quarter earnings

Elsewhere in corporate news, Merck shares popped 2.6% after the company said its cancer-treatment drug Keytruda reduced the risk of death in a trial by 51% when combined with chemotherapies, versus chemo alone.

Last week, the U.S. military conducted precision missile strikes against the Syrian government in response to a chemical attack carried out in the country. The attack was conducted in conjunction with France and the U.K.

In economic news, U.S. retail sales rose 0.6% in March, boosted by a 2% jump in auto sales.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note regained lost ground, lowering yields back to Friday’s 2.83%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices were down $1.02 a barrel to $66.37 U.S.

Gold prices picked up 70 cents to $1,348.60 U.S. an ounce.