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Canada’s main stock index closed flat Thursday despite a dip in shares of marijuana producers and bank stocks.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index lost 3.44 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 15,091.58.

Five of the index’s 11 major sectors were lower, led by losses in the healthcare sector.

Tech stocks finished 0.5 per cent higher. Kinaxis Inc. rose 2.1 per cent, while Constellation Software Inc. was up 1.2 per cent. BlackBerry Ltd gained 1 per cent,

Bucking the trend, the energy sector climbed 0.3 per cent as oil prices trimmed some losses on hopes OPEC talks next month may produce a reduction in output.

Optimism in the energy sector also came from news that Canadian government is considering buying rail cars to move oil stuck in the Alberta region because of a lack of pipeline capacity.

The healthcare sector was down 1.3 per cent as reports indicated Canada’s Alberta region may temporarily stop issuing licenses to sell cannabis and ration supply amid a countrywide marijuana shortage.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. fell 3 per cent, while Canopy Growth Corp. and Aphria Inc. lost 0.8 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively.

The financials sector slipped 0.2 per cent after Bank of Canada said vulnerabilities in the housing market are still high despite rising interest rates and tighter mortgage rules.

Royal Bank of Canada dropped 1 per cent, while Bank of Montreal and National Bank of Canada lost 0.2 and 0.5 per cent, respectively.

Europe’s share markets fell back into the red on Thursday, as investor worries about slowing global growth in the face of rising U.S. interest rates and trade tensions outweighed crucial Brexit progress.

Chinese markets had extended their slump in Asia amid the trade war with the United States, and with Wall Street closed later for Thanksgiving and trading therefore lighter than normal, Europe followed suit.

The region also had plenty to keep it busy.

A disappointing batch of company earnings added to the stocks gloom but Italian bonds rallied for a second day as sparring continued over its budget and sterling jumped as London and Brussels agreed wording on a Brexit transition deal.

The dollar also edged lower for a second day as traders sold the greenback going into Thanksgiving and after Wall Street had seen Apple shares, which have slumped $280 billion in recent weeks, fail with an attempted rebound.

“I think that the recent moves in equities have largely been about big tech catching up with the rest of the market,” said Eoin Murray, the head of investment at Hermes Investment Management.

“Post the (global market) wobbles at the end of January, it has really only been big tech that has run off into the stratosphere ... So this is simply big tech coming back down to earth.”

Europe’s tech sector duly lost another 0.75 per cent, but it wasn’t the worst performer. Banks fell as much as 1.6 pe rcent and mining companies and other resources firms dropped nearly 2 per cent before clawing some ground back.

The falls also reflected the bitter Sino-U.S. trade war, encouraging investors to take money off the table before U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, meet in Argentina next week.

The focus is on whether they can make any progress on their trade feud.

Countries belonging to the G20 group of the world’s biggest economies applied 40 new trade restrictive measures between mid-May and mid-October, covering around $481 billion of trade, the World Trade Organization said on Thursday.

Three-quarters of the restrictions were tariff hikes, many of them retaliation to steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump in March.

But the WTO did not count measures announced since or not yet implemented, and one G20 country had asked for its actions to be omitted from the monitoring report, the WTO said.

With no U.S. trading to look forward to later, traders contented themselves by watching Europe’s Brexit drama unfold.

Sterling jumped back up to $1.29 and 88.50 pence per euro after London and Brussels agreed on a text setting out their post-split ties that EU leaders are expected to endorse at a summit on Sunday.

Just over four months before Britain’s departure from the EU, Brexit negotiations and political uncertainty in Britain remain the key drivers for the pound, and many analysts are cautious about its prospects.

“With the UK and EU rushing to dot i’s and cross t’s on a Brexit deal, there’s some support for sterling at the moment and some upward pressure on the front end of the rates market,” said Societe Generale strategist Kit Juckes.

“Though it won’t take long before we refocus on the challenge facing the Prime Minister in getting House of Commons support for her Brexit deal,” he added.

Simon Fraser, the former permanent secretary at the UK foreign office, said he expected British politicians to vote on May’s deal on Dec. 10.

“There would be a huge amount of pressure put on members of parliament and I think there is a reasonable chance she would get this through ... if not at the first vote potentially in a second vote,” he told a call held by fund manager Amundi.

The Brexit text had also seen the euro rise against the dollar which meant the single currency barely budged when ECB meeting minutes showed its policymakers were keen to affirm their plans to cut stimulus at the end of the year.

South Africa’s central bank triggered far more action though, as a tight decision to hike interest rate in what had already been a hard to call meeting sent its currency, the rand, up more than 1 percent.

Back in emerging economy share markets, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had ended little changed after recovering from an initial wobble.

The index has managed to hold up so far in November after three straight monthly declines, but is on track for its worst annual performance since 2011.

Japan’s Nikkei had finished almost 0.7 per cent higher but the ongoing trade and tech jitters saw Chinese shares close 0.4 percent in the red.

“Investors are still wary about whether they’ll see further lows, given none of the issues that drove the recent correction have dissipated,” said Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP.

Oil prices dipped on Thursday after U.S. inventories swelled to their highest level since December adding to concerns about a global crude glut but OPEC talk of an output cut limited losses.

Benchmark Brent fell 96 cents last trading at $62.52 a barrel, edging back from a more than $1 drop in early European trading. U.S. WTI fell more than a $1 before easing back to settle down 78 cents at $53.85.

Trading was thin due to Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.

UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo said oil was helped off its lows by a weaker U.S. dollar, making dollar-denominated crude cheaper for holders of other currencies. “Additional support has probably come from lower Iranian exports,” he said.

Iran’s exports have dropped by several hundred thousand barrels per day (bpd) this month, a leading tanker-tracking company said on Thursday, suggesting U.S. sanctions that kicked in this month have scared off many buyers.

But prices remain under pressure from rising U.S. crude inventories, which climbed by 4.9 million barrels to 446.91 million barrels last week, their highest since December, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

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Tickers mentioned in this story

Study and track financial data on any traded entity: click to open the full quote page. Data updated as of 24/05/24 4:00pm EDT.

SymbolName% changeLast
Royal Bank of Canada
National Bank of Canada
Bank of Montreal
Constellation Software Inc
Apple Inc
Canopy Growth Corp
Kinaxis Inc
Aurora Cannabis Inc

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