Stocks Finish Positive as Trade Fears Fade

Tech Stocks Show Strength

Stocks in Canada’s largest market finished the day in the green on Thursday, as fears of a trade war with the United States began to dissolve, after President Donald Trump promised flexibility in dealing with the country's "real friends."

The S&P/TSX Composite Index collected 66.09 points to close Thursday at 15,538.70

The Canadian dollar eked forward 0.06 cents to 77.54 cents U.S.

In corporate news, WeedMD and Phivida have entered into a joint venture for cannabis-infused beverages. The new joint venture company, Cannabis Beverages Inc., will operate one of the first cannabis-infused beverage production facilities in Canada.

The joint venture partnership will focus on manufacturing, marketing and distribution of cannabinoid-infused beverages for the medical and future adult-use cannabis markets.

WeedMD shares docked eight cents, or 4%, to $1.93, while Phivida fell eight cents, or 5%, to $1.52 a share.

Tech stocks were the heroes of the day, particularly BlackBerry, up 44 cents, or 2.7%, to $16.57, while Constellation Software galloped $13.26, or 1.5%, to $885.95.

Shares of trade-sensitive auto parts and railroad companies recovered. Magna International fell off earlier highs to gain but one penny to $67.67 and Canadian National Railway was up 82 cents at $94.91

Financials also prospered, with Royal Bank picking up 81 cents to $101.37, while the Bank of Nova Scotia advanced 53 cents to $79.91.

Ivanhoe Mines suffered, along with other resource stocks doffing nine cents, or 2.9%, to $2.98. Franco-Nevada also got bruised by a retreat in metal prices, losing $3.87, or 4.3%, to $87.25.

Among gold concerns, Torex Gold slipped 32 cents, or 3.4%, to $9.17, while Rye Patch Gold surrendered seven cents, or 6.3%, to $1.05.

Energy stocks flagged, as Pine Cliff Energy faltered 1.8% to 28 cents.

Statistics Canada reported that Canadian municipalities issued $8.4 billion in building permits in January, up 5.6% following a 2.5% rise in December, due mostly to higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings in Ontario.

The agency also reported that new house prices were unchanged for a second consecutive month.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said the trend in housing starts was 225,276 units in February, compared to 224,572 units in January.

The White House said Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump plans to offer Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from planned tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which could be extended based on progress in North American Free Trade Agreement talks

About 5% of Vancouver homes stood empty or underutilized in a city grappling with skyrocketing home prices and soaring rents, according to data released on Wednesday, making their owners subject to a so-called empty home tax.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange settled into the red 2.47 points Thursday to 829.47

Eight of the 12 TSX subgroups remained positive on the day, with information technology up 1.5%, industrials ahead 0.9%, and financials better by 0.6%.

The four laggards were led mostly by materials, down 1%, gold, off 0.5%, and energy, sliding 0.2%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks closed higher on Thursday after President Donald Trump implemented steel and aluminum import tariffs that excluded Canada and Mexico, two key U.S. trade partners.

The Dow Jones Industrials ended Thursday with gains of 93.85 points to 24,895.21

The S&P 500 gained 12.17 points to 2,738.97, with utilities and consumer staples as the best-performing sector.

The NASDAQ composite Index muscled higher 31.3 points to 7,427.95. The major averages alternated between gains and losses throughout the session.

The tariffs signed by Trump will take effect in 15 days and will exempt Canada and Mexico indefinitely. They also leave the door open for other countries to argue why they should also be exempt. The moves slap 10% and 25% charges on aluminum and steel imports, respectively.

Shares of U.S. Steel fell 2.9%, and Nucor dropped 2.7%, while Century Aluminum pulled back 7.5%. Boeing, a large metals user, saw its shares climb 0.5%.

In corporate news, Cigna announced it plans to buy Express Scripts for $67 billion in a cash-and-stock deal. Cigna would find a new partner in Express Scripts, after antitrust regulators last year denied a Cigna and Anthem combination as anti-competitive. Express Scripts shares rose more than 8% on the news.

In economic news, weekly jobless claims in the States increased by 21,000 to 231,000 last week, bouncing back from a 48-year low. Investors also looked ahead to the release of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly jobs report.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note got stronger, lowering yields to 2.86% from Wednesday’s 2.88%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gave back 84 cents a barrel to $60.31 U.S.

Gold prices ditched five dollars to $1,322.60 U.S. an ounce.