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Canadian Stocks Are Little Changed In Cautious Trade - Canadian Commentary

The Canadian stock market dipped at the open Friday and since managed to inch into positive territory in cautious trade. Global markets are turning in a rather lackluster performance at the end of the trading week, due to the uncertainty ahead of the French election this weekend.

Markets in Europe are turning in a mixed performance Friday. Traders are in a cautious mood ahead of Sunday's presidential election in France. Recent polls have suggested the race is too close to call amid questions about the impact of yesterday's terrorist attack that left one French police officer dead and two other people wounded.

Markets in the United States are struggling to find direction Friday morning. The markets are relatively flat in early trade, following yesterday's rally. Uncertainty ahead of the French election appears to be keeping some investors on the sidelines.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is up 7.75 points or 0.05 percent at 15,633.31.

On Thursday, the index closed up 72.68 points or 0.47 percent, at 15,625.56. The index scaled an intraday high of 15,674.95 and a low of 15,565.99.

The Capped Healthcare Index is lower by 0.52 percent. Extendicare (EXE.TO) is down 0.60 percent and Concordia International (CXR.TO) is falling 1.63 percent.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX.TO) is losing 2.17 percent. The company has priced its psoriasis injection Siliq at $3,500 per month.

The Capped Materials Index is down 0.26 percent. Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) is falling 0.21 percent and Agrium (AGU.TO) is losing 0.52 percent. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT.TO) is weakening by 0.81 percent.

The Gold Index is declining 0.18 percent. Gold prices are steady Friday morning as focus shifts to an election in France that may decide the future of the European Union.

IAMGOLD (IMG.TO) is weakening by 1.03 percent and Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO) is down 0.41 percent. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) is losing 0.23 percent and Goldcorp (G.TO) is lower by 0.15 percent. B2Gold (BTO.TO) is also falling 0.81 percent.

The Capped Information Technology Index is gaining 0.24 percent. Sierra Wireless (SW.TO) is up 1.29 percent and Descartes Systems Group (DSG.TO) is adding 0.68 percent. Constellation Software (CSU.TO) is increasing 0.82percent.

The Capped Industrials Index is up 0.18 percent. Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) is rising 0.36 percent and Finning International (FTT.TO) is gaining 0.21 percent.

The Capped Telecommunication Services Index is up 0.07 percent. BCE (BCE.TO) is higher by 0.15 percent and TELUS (T.TO) is gaining 0.38 percent.

The Energy Index is rising 0.10 percent. Crude oil prices are slightly lower Friday, having dropped every day this week amid signs that U.S. production continues to skyrocket. Baker Hughes is set to release its oil rig count data this afternoon.

Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) is gaining 0.59 percent and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) is adding 0.22 percent.

The heavyweight Financial Index is increasing 0.02 percent. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) is gaining 0.40 percent and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) is advancing 0.12 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) is rising 0.04 percent.

National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) is down 0.02 percent. The company announced that it has invested $6 million in Nest Wealth and has entered into a commercial agreement with the company.

SNC-Lavalin Group (SNC.TO) is climbing 2.34 percent. The company announced that it has agreed to acquire WS Atkins plc (ATK.L) for C$3.6 billion.

On the economic front, data from Statistics Canada showed that inflation dropped to 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis in March, contradicting expectations for a 0.4 percent rise. It fell 0.2 percent on month last month on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Core inflation ticked up to 0.3 percent month-on-month, a tad slower than the 0.4 percent growth logged in February.

Eurozone private sector growth hit a fresh six-year high in April, survey results from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index rose unexpectedly to 56.7 in April from 56.4 in March. The latest reading was the highest since April 2011. Economists had forecast the score to remain unchanged at 56.4.

The euro area current account surplus increased to a record high in February, figures from the European Central Bank showed Friday. The current account surplus surged to a seasonally adjusted EUR 37.9 billion in February from EUR 26.1 billion in January. This was the highest surplus since the formation of the currency bloc.

Germany's private sector expanded strongly in April, despite slower rises in both manufacturing output and services activity, survey data from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index dropped to 56.3 in April from March's six-year high of 57.1.

The French private sector expanded the most in almost six years in April, survey data from IHS Markit showed Friday. The flash composite output index rose to a 71-month high of 57.4 in April from 56.8 in March.

UK retail sales declined more than expected in March, figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed Friday. Retail sales including automotive fuel decreased 1.8 percent month-on-month in March, reversing a 1.7 percent rise in February. Sales were forecast to fall moderately by 0.5 percent.

British households perceived that the value of their homes increased further in April, though the rate of growth eased fractionally, survey figures from IHS Markit and Knight Frank showed Friday. The Knight Frank/Markit House Price Sentiment Index, or HPSI, dropped to 57.4 in April from 57.5 in March.

In commodities, crude oil futures for May delivery are down 0.38 or 0.75 percent at $50.33 a barrel.

Natural gas for May is down 0.003 or 0.09 percent at $3.156 per million btu.

Gold futures for June are up $0.50 or 0.04 percent at $1,284.30 an ounce.

Silver for May is down $0.183 or 1.02 percent at $17.835 an ounce.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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