Stocks End Slightly Ahead

Techs Advance, Health-Care Stocks Fade

Equities in Canada’s largest market forged out gains to end a week shortened by Family Day, information technology and consumer discretionary stocks providing much of the oomph needed.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index nosed up 12.15 points to end Friday and the week at 16,013.01

The Canadian dollar added 0.46 cents at 76.06 cents U.S.

Tech companies had the loudest roar Friday, as BlackBerry moved ahead 26 cents, or 2.3%, to $11.33, and Shopify strengthened $4.52, or 1.9%, to $240.68.

Magna International rose $2.14, or 3.1%, to $71.62, after quarterly profit beat analysts' estimates as the auto parts maker assembled more vehicles, benefiting from new launches by car makers Jaguar Land Rover and Daimler AG.

Gildan Activewear jumped $1.12, or 2.5%, to $46.00.

Among materials stocks, First Quantum Minerals climbed 56 cents, or 3.8%, to $15.34, while Agnico Eagle Mines took on nine cents to $57.27.

Health-care stocks took some knocks Friday, with Canopy Growth lost 72 cents, or 1.2%, to $58.69, while Aurora Cannabis shed 16 cents, or 1.7%, to $9.14.

Industrials had a rough time of it, as Air Canada dropped 17 cents to $33.13, while Canadian National Railway hesitated $1.01 to $112.58.

Among consumer staples, Loblaw Companies fell $1.43, or 2.2%, to $64.07, while Empire Company sank three cents to $30.95.

On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada reported retail sales as edged down 0.1% to $50.4 billion in December. Lower sales at gasoline stations were partly offset by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Excluding gasoline stations, retail sales increased 0.4%

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange gained 1.66 points to 623.27

The 12 TSX subgroups split evenly between gainers and losers. Information technology led the former half, picking up 0.9%, while consumer discretionary stocks muscled up 0.7%, and materials were better by 0.4%.

The half-dozen laggards were weighed most by health-care, down 1%, industrials, sliding 0.4%, and consumer staples, off 0.1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks rose on Friday as another round of trade talks between the U.S. and China wrapped up with investors increasingly more hopeful a deal will be struck.

The Dow Jones Industrials rocketed 181.18 points to 26,031.81, as Intel outperformed. The 30-stock index also broke above 26,000 for the first time since early November and posted its ninth consecutive weekly gain, its longest streak since May 1995.

The S&P 500 strengthened 17.79 points to 2,792.67, led by gains in the tech sector.

The NASDAQ Composite recouped 67.84 points to 7,527.54, as shares of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet all closed higher. The tech-heavy NASDAQ also notched its ninth straight weekly gain, its longest streak since May 2009.

Intel shares rose more than 2% on Friday after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to overweight from equal weight, noting Intel could get a boost now that Bob Swan is the full-time CEO.

Shares of Kraft Heinz plummeted 27.5% after the consumer products company disclosed a Securities and Exchange Commission subpoena from an investigation into its accounting practices. The company also disclosed a $15.4-billion writedown.

President Donald Trump met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Friday. Liu delivered a letter to Trump saying Chinese President Xi Jinping hopes the two countries can redouble efforts to strike a trade deal. The major indexes fell from their session highs on those comments.

Trump's meeting with Liu on Friday comes after a U.S. delegation met with Xi last week. Media reports surfaced that Trump and Xi are also discussing a summit at Mar-a-Lago late in March.

Meanwhile, trade tensions between the U.S. and Europe are increasing. The European Union is preparing to target heavy machines made by U.S. companies like Caterpillar if the U.S. slaps tariffs on cars made in the E.U. Shares of Caterpillar dipped before the bell on the report, but traded slightly higher after the open.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained ground, lowering yields to 2.65% from Thursday’s 2.69%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices moved higher 22 cents to $57.18 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices tallied $2.80 to $1,330.60 U.S. an ounce.