TSX Falls Just Short of Breakeven

Health-care Stocks Go Skyward

Canada's main stock index lost ground on Thursday, as conflicting cues on U.S.-China trade discussions dampened sentiment.

The TSX Composite Index slipped 6.63 points to end Thursday at 16,999.19

The Canadian dollar regained 0.12 cents to 75.29 cents U.S.

The runaway winner among subgroups was in health-care, with HEXO rocketing away from the pack, gaining 85 cents, or 33.6%, to 3.38, while Aurora Cannabis Company hiked 60 cents, or 17.1%, to $4.10.

In consumer staples, Metro tacked on $1.55, or 2.8%, to $57.53, while rival grocer Empire Company posted a gain of 66 cents, or 1.9%, to $35.09.

In energy stocks, MEG Energy jumped 23 cents, or 4.3%, to $5.61, while Vermilion Energy triumphed 54 cents, or 2.8%, to $19.97.

Gold headed the list of subgroups on the minus side. Eldorado Gold dumped 46 cents, or 4.3%, to $10.14, while OceanaGold got bruised 27 cents, or 10.7%, to $2.26.

In other resource stocks, First Majestic Silver slipped 57 cents, or 3.9%, to $14.02, while MAG Silver surrendered 59 cents, or 4.3%, to $13.24.

Among industrial concerns, Ballard Power Systems docked 32 cents, or 3.6%, to $8.69, while Badger Daylighting let go of 53 cents, or 1.5%, to $34.77.

On the macroeconomic front, Statistics Canada says the number of Canadian drawing regular employment insurance benefits dropped in September to 445,600, down 5,600, or 1.2%, from August.

The agency says there were notable decreases in five provinces, particularly in Alberta and B.C. At the same time, there were more EI beneficiaries in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange climbed 4.89 points to 529.03

Eight of the 12 Toronto subgroups were lower, weighed most by gold, down 1.7%, materials, off 1.4%, and industrials, off 0.4%.

The four gainers were led by health-care, sprinting 7%, while consumer staples and energy each captured 0.9%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks slipped on Thursday as investors digested the latest reports surrounding the U.S.-China trade war.

The Dow Jones Industrials fell 54.8 points to 27,766.29. Thursday marked the third straight day of losses for the Dow, its longest losing streak since August. Boeing and Procter & Gamble were the biggest losers in the Dow, falling more than 1% each.

The S&P 500 doffed 4.92 points to 3,103.54. The S&P 500 posted its first three-day slide since September.

The NASDAQ lost 20.52 points to 8,506.21.

In corporate news, media reports have Charles Schwab in talks to buy TD Ameritrade. The news sent TD Ameritrade shares flying by 17% while Schwab’s stock rose more than 8%. A deal between the two would create a company with $5 trillion in combined assets.

During a phone call thought to have been made late last week, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He invited U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing to sit down for further negotiations, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Prices for the 10-Year U.S. Treasury retreated, raising yields to 1.77% from Wednesday’s 1.74%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gained $1.41 to $58.42 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices dropped nine dollars to $1,465.20 U.S. an ounce.