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Trader Michael Milano, right, listens to specialist Mark Fitzgerald as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, March 20. (Richard Drew/AP)
Trader Michael Milano, right, listens to specialist Mark Fitzgerald as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, March 20. (Richard Drew/AP)

At midday: TSX declines with oil prices Add to ...

Canada’s benchmark stock index edged lower on Monday, despite an increase by gold miners as bullion rose and a surge in acquisition target Dominion Diamond Corp., with gains muted by financial stock declines and energy companies weighed by lower oil prices.

Dominion shares jumped 21.7 per cent to $16.08 after Washington Companies said on Sunday it had previously made a proposal to acquire the mining company for $13.50 U.S. ($18.03) a share.

G20's protectionism shift hits stocks (Reuters)

Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer, rose 0.7 per cent to $25.32 as gold prices scaled a two-week peak. Smaller miner Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. added 0.4 per cent to $56.72.

Gold rose and the U.S. dollar and bond yields fell after a G20 weekend summit that was dominated by the U.S. administration’s protectionist stance on global trade.

Lower bond yields helped dividend-paying telecom stocks notch strong gains for a second straight session, while financial stocks that benefit from a rising interest rate environment pulled back.

At 11:26 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 19.24 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 15,471.25. Four of the index’s 10 main groups were in positive territory.

Manulife Financial Corp. fell 0.1 per cent to $24.11 and Bank of Montreal declined 0.6 per cent to $100.40.

The index’s heavyweight energy group retreated 0.3 per cent, with oil prices falling as investors unwound bets on higher prices because of concerns that higher U.S. crude output could hamper an OPEC-led production cut deal.

Canadian Natural Resources slipped 0.5 per cent to $43.43 and Crescent Point Energy Corp. declined 1.4 per cent to $14.11.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.5 per cent.

Canada’s finance minister will give an update on the deficit when he presents the federal budget on Wednesday, hoping to flesh out plans to spend the way to growth without drawing the wrath of debt rating agencies and businesses struggling to compete.

Canadian wholesale trade in January unexpectedly soared by 3.3 per cent, its biggest monthly advance in more than seven years, on stronger sales of motor vehicles and parts, Statistics Canada data indicated on Monday.

U.S. stocks reversed course to trade slightly higher in late morning trading on Monday, helped by a rise in technology stocks including Apple.

Apple rose nearly 1 per cent, hitting a new record-high of $141.34, lifting the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index to yet another intraday high.

The iPhone-maker’s stock could rise another 10 per cent in six months, Barron’s wrote in an article posted Saturday.

The U.S. stock market has been on record-setting spree since the election of Donald Trump as president, but the rally has faltered in recent weeks as investors fret over the lack of clarity on his proposals to reform taxes and cut regulation.

Analysts have also said the Trump administration is spending too much of its political capital to pass a Republican-proposed healthcare bill, which may leave it wanting for support when it tries to reform the tax code.

“With tax reform and infrastructure spending getting pushed to the end of this year or even next year, it will eventually weigh on sentiment and business confidence,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

“Eventually, the market will lose patience,” Mr. Frederick said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 36.91 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 20,951.53.

The S&P 500 was up 0.93 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 2,379.18.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 12.01 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 5,913.01.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the energy index’s 0.68-per-cent fall leading the decliners.

Oil fell as investors continued to unwind bets on higher prices.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s conservative rate guidance is also keeping the market in check. All eyes will be on Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans when he speaks later in the day.

In an interview with Fox Business Network TV earlier on Monday, Evans said the Fed is on track to raise interest rates twice more this year.

A host of Fed officials are scheduled to speak this week, including Chair Janet Yellen on Thursday.

Last week, the central bank raised interest rates for the first time this year but stuck to its outlook for two more hikes this year, instead of three expected by the market.

Among stocks, Movado fell 5.70 per cent to $22.25 after the watchmaker’s quarterly results missed expectations.

Walt Disney rose 1.1 per cent to $112.96 after the media and entertainment company’s “Beauty and the Beast” topped box-office sales. The stock was the second-biggest boost on the Dow.

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