TSX Drops on Losses in Health-Care

Aphria, BMO in Spotlight

Canada's main stock index fell on Tuesday, led by health-care shares, while market sentiment was hurt by fading hopes of a swift resolution to the U.S.-China trade dispute.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index remained in the red 62.55 points by noon hour ET Tuesday to 15,212.43

The Canadian dollar was positioned 0.02 cents south of breakeven at 75.74 U.S.

Aphria plunged $1.38, or 18.2%, extending losses from the previous session, to $6.22. The cannabis producer defended its Latin American operations from claims in a short-seller report on Monday that the company had overpaid for assets.

Bank of Montreal fell $2.31, or 2.3%, to 96.69, after Canada's fourth-biggest lender reported fourth-quarter earnings, ending a mixed earnings season for Canada's biggest banks.

Trican Well Service gave up early gains and fell five cents, or 3.8%, to $1.27, as Raymond James raised rating on its stock to "strong buy" from "outperform".

Teck Resources rose 83 cents, or 2.9%, to $29.02, after the mining company agreed to sell a 30% stake in its Quebrada Blanca copper mine expansion project in northern Chile to Japan's Sumitomo for $1.2 billion.

The second biggest decliner was Osisko Gold Royalties down 36 cents, or 3.6% to $9.64.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange fell 6.79 points mid-Tuesday to 576.84

The 12 TSX subgroups remained evenly divided, as gold surged 1.4%, communications clicked 1% higher, and utilities improved 0.8%.

Of the half-dozen laggards, health-care stocks plunged 2.1%, industrials dropped 1.5%, and consumer discretionary stocks fell 1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks fell on Tuesday as investors worried about a bond-market phenomenon signaling a possible economic slowdown. Lingering worries around U.S.-China trade also sent jitters down Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jettisoned 456.84 points, or 1.8%, to approach noon at 25,369.59, led by losses in Caterpillar.

The S&P 500 dropped 52.25 points, or 1.9%, to 2,738.77, to trade below its 200-day moving average as the financials sector lagged. Utilities proved the only positive sector in the S&P 500, rising 0.8%.

The NASDAQ lost 159.87 points, or 2.2%, to 7,281.64

Bank shares slipped, as shares of J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America all declined more than 2%.

Further fears of an economic slowdown were stoked by weaker-than-expected quarterly guidance from Toll Brothers. The company issued its forecast for the first quarter. Toll Brothers also pointed to negative reports about the housing market as the cause for the slowdown. New home sales have fallen for 11 straight months.

On Wednesday, U.S. equity, option and fixed income markets will be closed due to the declaration of a National Day of Mourning to honour former President George H.W. Bush.

Toll Brothers fell more than 8% after the company issued weaker-than-expecting guidance, pointing to negative reports about the housing market as the cause for the slowdown.

Apple dropped 2% after HSBC downgraded the company's stock to hold from buy as it faces "the reality of market saturation."

The U.S. and China agreed over the weekend to hold off on any additional tariffs on each other's goods on January 1, in order to allow trade talks to continue. Leaders from the two countries met over dinner at the G-20 summit in Argentina.

Prices for the benchmark for the 10-year U.S. Treasury rallied, lowering yields to 2.93% from Monday’s 2.97%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slumped five cents to $52.90 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices tacked on $3.50 to $1,243.10 U.S. an ounce.