TSX Holds its Own by Noon

Rogers, Canopy in Spotlight

Canada's main stock index remained higher by noon on Thursday, supported by health-care stocks, although global growth concerns and a drop in shares of Rogers Communications kept a lid on further gains.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gained 26.63 points to greet noon Thursday at 16,570.87

The Canadian dollar lost 0.15 cents at 74.76 cents U.S.

Markets will be closed Friday for Good Friday

Rogers tumbled $1.91, or 2.7%, to $69.03, after the company reported a quarterly profit that missed estimates on lower revenue from its media business.

Among the largest percentage gainers on the TSX was Canopy Growth Co, which jumped $4.64, or 8.1%, to $61.75 after the company said it would buy U.S.-based pot firm Acreage Holdings in a deal valued at $3.4 billion.

On the economic calendar, Statistics Canada said, following three consecutive monthly declines, retail sales rose 0.8% in February to $50.6 billion. Sales were up in five of 11 sectors, representing 73% of retail trade.

Also, in February, 441,200 people received regular Employment Insurance benefits, an increase of 4,400 or 1.0% from January.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange gained 0.32 points by noon hour to 610.37

Seven of the 12 Toronto subgroups remained positive midday, as health-care sprinted 2.4%, consumer discretionaries were 0.9% prouder, and real-estate stood taller by 0.6%.

The five laggards were weighed mostly by communications, sliding 0.9%, gold, duller by 0.5%, and materials, off 0.3%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks gave up most of their earlier gains on Thursday as losses in the health-care sector continued for a third straight day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 108.28 points to 26,557.82

The S&P 500 gained 3.85 points to 2,904.30

The NASDAQ Composite fell 5.76 points to 7,990.31

The health-care sector is down more than 5% this week as investors worry over proposals pushed by Democratic lawmakers. UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann told analysts in a conference call earlier this week that propositions like “Medicare for All” would “jeopardize the relationship people have with their doctors, destabilize the nation’s health system and limit the ability of clinicians to practice medicine at their best.”

Shares of Pfizer and Centene led the decline in health care on Thursday, as they both fell nearly 3%. Biogen, Allergan and Abiomed also traded lower.

Health-care’s pullback dampened the positive sentiment sparked by stronger-than-expected retail sales data and corporate earnings reports that topped analyst estimates.

The corporate earnings season also continued on Thursday as companies like Honeywell and BB&T reported better-than-expected profits. Shares of the two companies rose more than 1% each.

So far, more than 78% of the S&P 500 companies that have reported have topped analyst expectations

Retail sales in the U.S. rose by 1.6% last month, the strongest gain since September 2017. Economists expected a gain of 0.9%.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury were higher, thus lowering yields to 2.56% from Wednesday’s 2.59%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slipped 14 cents to $63.62 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices decreased $1.20 to $1,275.60 U.S. an ounce.