Stocks down as legal pot makes bow

Tech stocks also flounder

Canada's main stock index declined on Wednesday as the healthcare sector tumbled, led by losses in Cannabis shares.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index stayed lower 81.53 points to greet noon Wednesday at 15,498.21

The Canadian dollar handed back 0.32 cents to 76.99 cents U.S.

Canada became the first industrialized nation to legalize recreational cannabis on Wednesday but a legal buzz will be hard to come by in its biggest cities as some, including Toronto and Vancouver, will have no stores open.

Aurora Cannabis fell 1.9% to $13.71. The company said its Aurora Sky production plant was granted a sales license by Canada's health-care regulator. Aphria actually gained 2.4% to $19.14.

First Majestic Silver dropped two cents to $8.07 while Fortis Inc increased 51 cents, or 1.2%, to $42.37.

On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported that manufacturing sales in this country fell 0.4% to $58.6 billion in August, following three consecutive monthly increases. The decline was mainly due to lower motor vehicle sales.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange sank 7.93 points, or 1.1%, to 691.88

All but three of the 12 subgroups remained in the red, with information technology and health-care each docking 2.5%, and energy stocks falling 1.7%.

The three gainers were gold and utilities, each up 0.2%, while financials nosed up 0.1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks fell on Wednesday as volatile trading continued through the start of the earnings season. Weakness in housing shares also contributed to the decline.

The Dow Jones Industrials came off its lows of the morning, but still fell 95.34 points to reach noon at 25,703.08, as IBM led the decline.

The S&P 500 jettisoned 5.45 points to 2,804.47, with energy and materials lagging.

The NASDAQ let go of 22.34 points to 7,623.15, despite a strong gain from Netflix.

IBM reported mixed quarterly results, with earnings topping estimates and revenue missing. The results sent the company's stock down by more than 7% and overshadowed strong earnings from other companies.

Netflix posted third-quarter earnings that easily beat expectations. The big beat was driven by stronger-than-expected subscriber growth in both the U.S. and overseas. Netflix shares rose more than 6%.

CSX and Cree also reported better-than-expected earnings Tuesday after the close, while M&T Bank and U.S. Bancorp's results topped estimates Wednesday before the bell.

Overall, the earnings season is off to a good start. Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported thus far, 89.8% have topped analyst expectations

Wednesday's moves come a day after the major indexes posted their best day since March, boosted by strong earnings. On Tuesday, the Dow surged more than 500 points as Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, and UnitedHealth jumped. Tuesday's jump helped Wall Street recover some of the steep losses from last week. The Dow and S&P 500 fell more than 4% last week, while the NASDAQ lost 3.7%.

On the data front, housing starts fell 5.3% last month, more than expected.

At 2 p.m. ET, the Federal Open Market Committee will release the minutes of its meeting held in late September.

Prices for the benchmark for the 10-year U.S. Treasury sagged, raising yields back to Tuesday’s 3.16%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slid $1.94 at $69.98 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices lost 80 cents to $1,230.20 U.S. an ounce.