Stocks flat as noon hour rolls in

Cannabis stocks have field day

Canada's main stock index had trouble getting untracked midday Wednesday, as the materials group got a boost from higher gold prices and as the health-care sector rose, led by cannabis producers.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index dipped 2.98 points to move into Wednesday’s noon hour at 16,193.06

The Canadian dollar inched higher 0.13 cents to 77.23 cents.

Business and political leaders are increasing the pressure on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to agree on a deal to renew the North American Free Trade Agreement and drop his insistence that no deal is better than a bad deal.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will hold fresh talks on NAFTA with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Wednesday as a U.S.-imposed deadline of Oct. 1 looms.

The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Aurora Cannabis, which jumped $1.32, or 12%, to $12.34, followed by Canopy Growth, which rose $3.62, or 5.4%, to $70.95


Shares of Canadian National Resources fell eight cents to $42.42, Canadian Pacific Railway dropped $1.53 to $267.18, and SNC-Lavalin sank 62 cents, or 1.2%, to $52.03.

Canfor Corp fell $1.61, or 5.7%, to $26.68, the most on the TSX, and the second biggest decliner was Interfor, down 85 cents, or 4.2%, to $19.55.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange was negative 2.43 points to 721.32

The 12 subgroups were evenly split, with health-care stocks sprinting out ahead of the pack 5.7%, while gold improved 1.9%, and materials were 1% stronger.

The half-dozen laggards were weighed most by telecoms, down 1%, while utilities and industrials each suffered 0.8%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks mostly rose on Wednesday bank shares got a lift from higher interest rates. Sentiment on Wall Street was also boosted as investors bet that a trade war between the U.S. and China will not be as bad as previously feared.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 191.34 points to break for lunch Wednesday at 26,438.30, with J.P. Morgan Chase as the best-performing stock in the index.

The S&P 500 eked up 5.26 points to 2,907.57, as financials jumped more than 1.5%.

The NASDAQ leaned lower 14.25 points to 7,935.36, however, as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Alphabet and Apple all fell.

Goldman Sachs and Bank of America both rose more than 2%, while Morgan Stanley gained 1.8%. Shares of J.P. Morgan Chase advanced 2.4%, and Citigroup gained 2.5%.

China slapped tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods on Tuesday. Prior to that, the Trump administration had put levies on about $200 billion worth of Chinese products.

Boeing climbed 1.8%, and Caterpillar acquired 2.2%. Both companies are seen as bellwethers for trade given their large overseas exposure.

Tesla shares fell 0.6% after the company said the Justice Department last month requested documents regarding CEO Elon Musk's tweets in early August about taking the company private. The New York Times also reported the Securities and Exchange Commission has sent subpoenas to Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake, which helped Tesla evaluate going private.

Netflix shares rose as much as 2.7% before falling more than 1%, after analysts at Guggenheim hiked their price target on the stock to $420 from $360, implying a 14.2% upside from Tuesday's close.

Prices for the benchmark for the 10-year U.S. Treasury demurred, upping yields to 3.07% from Tuesday’s 3.05%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices were stronger by 90 cents to $70.75 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices perked five dollars to $1,207.90