Stocks Narrowly Lower on China Meeting

Canopy, Aphria in Focus



Equities in Canada’s biggest centre struggled for gains to end Thursday, as investors grew wary over reports the U.S. and China were set to meet to settle their recent differences.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index gave up earlier gains and finished downward 9.3 at 15,262.73

The Canadian dollar was lower 0.07 at 72.60 cents U.S.

Health-care stocks led the attack, with Canopy Growth flourishing $2.52, or 9.2%, to $29.81, while Aphria climbed 22 cents, or 3.9%, to $5.93.

In consumer staples, Empire Company jumped 89 cents, or 3%, to $30.95, while George Weston took on $2.56, or 2.7%, to $98.79.

Utilities moved up, with Northland Power leaping $1.19, or 3.4%, to $31.31, while ATCO gained $1.14, or 3%, to $39.03.

Financials did not fare so well, however, as Alaris Royalty faded 64 cents, or 6%, to $10.04, while TD Bank tumbled $2.55, or 4.1%, to $60.15.

Among energy issues failing, Whitecap Resources sank 11 cents, or 5.1%, to $2.06, while Vermilion Energy shed 29 cents, or 3.9%, to $7.15.

Real-estate issues lost ground, as Brookfield Property Partners gave up 74 cents, or 4.8%, to $14.57, while H&R REIT units dropped 36 cents, or 3.4%, to $10.36.

On the economic sheet, Statistics Canada said payroll employment in this country decreased in March by 914,500, or 5.4%, from February, in line with the 5.3% decrease in total employment observed in the Labour Force Survey.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange added 3.52 points to close at 544.62.

Still, eight of the 12 TSX subgroups advanced, with health-care up 2.1%, while consumer staples garnered 2%, and utilities prospered 1.4%.

The four laggards were led by financials, down 1.4%, energy, off 1.2%, and real-estate, down 0.9%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks closed lower on Thursday, erasing solid gains from earlier in the day, after President Donald Trump said he would be giving a news conference Friday regarding China.

The Dow Jones Industrials stumbled 96.43 points to 25,451.84, for its first losing day in the last three sessions. At its session high, the 30-stock index had gained more than 200 points.

The S&P 500 subtracted 6.4 points to 3,029.73, giving back a jump of 1.1%.

The NASDAQ Composite moved into the minus category 43.37 points to 9,368.99. The NASDAQ and S&P 500 both snapped three-day winning streaks.

Facebook and Netflix fell more than 1% each while Amazon and Alphabet posted small losses. Bank stocks gave back some of their strong gains for the week. Citigroup dropped 5.9% while Bank of America declined by 4.3%. Wells Fargo dipped 2.6% and JPMorgan Chase slipped 1.5%.

Gains were kept in check after China’s National People’s Congress approved a national security bill for Hong Kong. The bill will bypass Hong Kong’s legislature, raising concerns over the longevity of Hong Kong’s "one party, two systems" principle, which allows additional freedoms mainland China does not have.

The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday another 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. That’s more than a Dow Jones estimate of 2.05 million.

To be sure, the pace of new filings has dropped from previous weeks. Continuing claims, which represent a better unemployment picture, plunged by nearly four million in their first decline since the coronavirus outbreak.

Prices for the 10-Year Treasury gained back lost ground, lowering yields to Thursday’s 0.69%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices picked up 72 cents to $33.53 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices jumped $4.70 to $1,731.50 U.S. an ounce.