Stocks Subside Wednesday

Valeant Punished Following Downgrade

It was a negative finish for stocks in Canada’s biggest centre Wednesday, as health-care stocks faded sharply, overwhelming gains in the gold and resource sectors.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index let go of 73.34 points to close Wednesday at 16,284.21

The Canadian dollar hurtled higher 0.55 cents at 81.1 cents U.S.

The largest decliner on the index was Valeant Pharmaceuticals, down $3.10, or 11.2%, to $24.61, after Goldman Sachs gave the shares a “sell” rating.

Elsewhere among battered health-care issues, Aurora Cannabis took it on the chin 67 cents, or 4.5%, to $14.12.

Telecoms also got bruised, as Rogers Communications lost $1.04, or 1.7%, to $60.93, while BCE staggered 50 cents to $57.22.

CN Rail fell $1.94, or 1.9%, to $98.19 after reporting a lower-than-expected adjusted profit for the fourth quarter, hurt by the heavy expenses its has incurred to grow its business. Air Canada was grounded 36 cents, or 1.6%, to $22.80.

Gold towered over a small crop of gainers, as Barrick Gold climbed 11 cents to $18.56, while Kinross Gold acquired three cents to $5.68.

In the materials sector, Agnico Eagle Mines vaulted $2.80, or 4.9%, to $60.58, while First Quantum Minerals strengthened 43 cents, or 2.3%, to $19.02.

Officials opened a key round of negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement on Tuesday amid optimistic signs, as U.S. President Donald Trump said the talks were going "pretty well" and Canada’s chief negotiator said he had high hopes for progress.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange backpedaled 6.33 points Wednesday to 893.59

All but three of the 12 TSX subgroups were lower on the day, with health-care sliding 4.2%, telecoms down 1%, and industrials faltering 0.8%.

The three gainers were gold, up 1.7%, materials, ahead 1%, and consumer discretionary, nicking up 0.1%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. equities traded in a wide range on Wednesday after reaching all-time highs as tech stocks declined. The market's high valuation also made some investors nervous.

The Dow Jones Industrials were positive 41.31 points to 26,252.12, a new all-time record

The S&P 500 gave back 1.59 points to 2,837.54. Tech stocks declined 0.9%

The tech-heavy NASDAQ stepped back 45.23 points from Tuesday’s all-time high to 7,415.06.

Tech stocks were led lower by Apple, which fell 1.6% after Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi predicted iPhone sales growth could be weak this spring. Shares of Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet also traded lower.

Worries about further U.S. protectionist policies also gave investors jitters. Earlier on Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested the U.S. was ready to enter a trade war, while negotiator were trying to tweak NAFTA.

Abbott Laboratories, United Technologies, Baker Hughes and Comcast all reported earnings and revenue that beat analyst expectations.

Elsewhere, airline stocks fell broadly after United Continental's growth plans raised concern it could drive down fares.

Shares of United Continental pulled back 11.4%, the biggest decliner in the S&P 500. American Airlines declined 6%, while Delta Air Lines fell 5.2% and Southwest Airlines dropped 4.7%

Of the S&P 500 companies that had reported as of Tuesday morning, 77% have beaten earnings estimates, while 80% have topped revenue expectations

Equities have kicked off 2018 with strong gains. The major indexes are up at least 6% year to date as strong earnings and a lower corporate tax rate help maintain optimism in the economy.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note waned, raising yields to 2.65% from Tuesday’s 2.62%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gained $1.49 a barrel to $65.96 U.S.

Gold prices advanced $20.50 to $1,357.20 U.S. an ounce.