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Market News The close: TSX ends lower as sagging gold prices weigh on material stocks

Canada’s main stock index fell on Thursday, led by declines in shares of material companies on the back of lower gold prices.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite Index closed down 62.42 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 16,087.55.

The materials index was the biggest decliner, off 1.84 per cent as Alamos Gold fell 5.2 per cent, Yamana Gold fell 3.9 per cent and Detour Gold was off 3.5 per cent.

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The April gold contract ended down US$14.20 at US$1,295.10 an ounce, below the key US$1,300 level. Gold fell more than 1 per cent, slipping below US$1,300 for a second time this month, as fears of a “no-deal” Brexit faded and the dollar gained versus the pound ahead of a vote to extend the deadline for Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Health care stocks fell 0.6 per cent as Extendicare was off 2.5 per cent, Cronos Group dropped 1.4 per cent, and Canopy Growth declined 1.3 per cent.

The consumer staples sector fell 0.5 per cent but the energy sector rose 0.02 per cent as oil prices hit four-month highs.

The S&P 500 slipped on Thursday, snapping a three-day streak of gains, as uncertainty over when a trade deal between the United States and China would be reached left investors on edge.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7.66 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 25,710.55, the S&P 500 lost 2.36 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 2,808.56 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.50 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7,630.91.

U.S> President Donald Trump said the United States was doing very well in trade talks with China, but could not say whether a final deal would be reached.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had been expected to hold a summit at the president’s Mar-a-Lago property in Florida later this month, but no date has been set for a meeting. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that a meeting between the two was more likely to take place in April at the earliest.

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Chipmakers, which rely on China for a large portion of their revenue also lost ground with the Philadelphia SE chip index off 0.6 per cent.

“The good news is mildly negative news on China trade doesn’t tip the apple cart over anymore,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

“But breaking out of the next level of resistance has been a wall to get through. It shows we’re probably range-bound 2,750 to 2,800 until we get answers to China trade, Brexit etc.”

In the latest of a series of votes, British lawmakers on Thursday approved by 412 votes to 202 a motion setting out the option to request a short delay if a Brexit deal can be agreed by March 20 – or a longer delay if no deal can be agreed in time.

Boeing, the single largest U.S. exporter to China, fell 1 per cent. Stock of the world’s largest planemaker continued to fall after its money-spinning 737 MAX jets were grounded globally following the fatal crash in Ethiopia on the weekend.

Meanwhile, a Commerce Department report showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell more than expected in January, suggesting the housing market weakness persisted early in the first quarter.

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The PHLX housing index dipped 0.5 per cent on the news, while the broader real estate sector closed up 0.04 per cent.

Downbeat housing data follows tame inflation reports this week which underscored the U.S. Federal Reserve’s patient stance on future interest rate hikes and helped the S&P and Nasdaq post three consecutive session of gains.

Apple Inc. rose 1.1 per cent, extending a four-day winning streak, after brokerage Cowen and Co. started coverage with an “outperform” rating. An Apple-led technology rally has propped markets recently.

Johnson & Johnson fell 1 per cent after a California jury awarded US$29-million to a woman who said that asbestos in the company’s talcum-powder-based products caused her cancer.

Facebook Inc. dropped 1.85 per cent after a 17-hour partial outage made the world’s largest social network inaccessible to users across the globe, driving a wave of online complaints.

Reuters

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