Stocks Stronger to Close Monday

Energy, Staples Prove Champs

Stocks in Canada’s largest market were solidly in the green Monday, following remarks by Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index slid off its highs of the day, but gained 56.69 points to conclude Monday at 15,541.01

The Canadian dollar backtracked 1.08 cents to 77.88 cents U.S.

The energy sector was boosted by Cenovus Energy trading seven cents higher to $12.35, while Suncor Energy was up 10 cents to $48.90.

Among consumer staples, Metro Inc. added 32 cents to $42.45, while Loblaw gained 78 cents, or 1.2%, to $66.23

In the consumer discretionary category, Gildan Activewear took on 58 cents, or 1.6%, to $37.73, while Magna International soared $1.18, or 1.6%, to $76.39.

One of the largest percentage gainers on the TSX was The Stars Group, which rose $5.61, or 15%, to $42.97. The Canadian gaming company on Saturday had agreed to buy Sky Betting and Gaming from owners CVC Capital Partners and Sky Plc, in a deal worth $4.7 billion.

In the health-care sector, Aurora Cannabis shed 60 cents, or 7%, to $8.01, while Canopy Growth dropped $1.92, or 6.4%, to $28.09.

The largest decliner was Tahoe Resources, down 41 cents, or 6%, to $6.46, after the company on Saturday reported a labour strike at its La Arena mine in Peru. Agnico Eagle Mines toppled 38 cents to $55.90.

For his part, Poloz said he expects the inflation rate to be above 2% in 2018, but he is comfortable with that as long as the long-term trend is steady, according to reports on Sunday.

On the economic front, Statistics Canada reported that wholesale trade in Canada backtracked 0.8% to $62.8 billion in February, the largest downward movement and the second monthly drop since September 2017.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange docked 8.06 points, or 1%, to 796.30

Seven of the 12 TSX subgroups were positive on the day, as energy gushed 1.3%, consumer discretionary and consumer staples each climbed 1%.

The five laggards were weighed most by health-care, ailing 2.1%, materials, faltering 1.2%, and gold, sagging 0.8%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks fell on Monday as tech shares declined, while investors fretted over higher interest rates. Wall Street also zeroed in on the busiest week of the earnings season.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 14.25 points to 24,448.69, notching its first four-day losing streak since March — with Goldman Sachs as the worst-performing stock in the index.

The S&P 500 inched up 0.15 points to 2,670.29, as a 0.4% decline in tech offset a 1.1% gain in telecommunications.

The NASDAQ Composite index slid 17.52 points to 7,128.60, its third straight decline, as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet all closed lower.

Wall Street also braced for the busiest week of the earnings season. More than 170 companies are expected to have released their quarterly results by the end of the week, including Alphabet, 3M, Amazon and Chevron.

Hasbro, Halliburton and Alaska Air all posted quarterly results before the bell Monday. Shares of Hasbro regained 3%, after its earnings and sales fell short of estimates. Halliburton's quarterly profit matched analyst expectations, while its revenue missed. Alaska Air reported a stronger-than-expected profit but disappointing revenue.

Overall, this earnings season has been strong thus far. More than 82% of S&P 500 companies that have reported through Monday morning have topped earnings estimates

Elsewhere in corporate news, shares of Merck rose 2.4%, after an upgrade from Goldman Sachs. Analysts at the investment bank said the Dow member's sales could boom because of Keytruda, a blockbuster drug used to treat lung cancer.

Caterpillar climbed 0.5% after Citi raised its rating on the Dow component, citing a construction rebound in China. Citi also points to positive estimate revisions and increased capital returns as reasons for the upgrade.

Meanwhile, Alcoa shares plummeted 13.5% after the U.S. government said it would not impose previously announced sanctions against Rusal until October.

The 10-year Treasury note yield hit a high of 2.99%, threatening once again to reach 3%. The benchmark rate last traded at 3% or higher in January 2014. Investors have been selling Treasurys this month — pushing yields higher — amid expectations of rising inflation, which could prompt the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy at a faster pace.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note dropped, raising yields to 2.98% from Friday’s 2.96%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices regained 49 cents a barrel to $68.89 U.S.

Gold prices fell $12.30 to $1,326.00 U.S. an ounce.