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Canadian Stocks Are Struggling As Energy Stocks Fall - Canadian Commentary

The Canadian stock market is down again Friday morning, extending recent losses due to concerns over a trade war. U.S. President Donald Trump told metals industry executives at a White House meeting that he would sign an order formally imposing the new sanctions next week.

"Sometime next week we'll be signing it in," Trump said. "And you're going to have protection for the first time in a long time."

Trump indicated that he plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

Data from Statistics Canada showed that GDP grew 0.1 percent on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis. This was slower than the 0.4 percent growth seen in November. The result matched expectations.

Markets in Europe are down again Friday, extending their losing streak to four sessions. Investors are concerned about a potential trade war and the prospect of the ECB and Bank of Japan exiting extraordinary stimulus.

Markets on Wall Street are down in early trade Friday, extending their recent sell-off. Traders are worried about the impact President Donald Trump's plans to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will have on global trade.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is down 76.75 points or 0.50 percent at 15,317.20.

On Thursday, the index closed down 48.73 points or 0.32 percent, at 15,393.95. The index scaled an intraday high of 15,455.89 and a low of 15,313.87.

The Capped Healthcare Index is lower by 1.51 percent. ProMetic Life Sciences (PLI.TO) is falling 2.57 percent and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX.TO) is sinking 3.24 percent.

The Energy Index is falling 1.31 percent. Crude oil prices continue to fall Friday as the U.S. dollar strengthened and stocks flounder.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) is lower by 2.08 percent and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) is weakening by 0.21 percent. Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) is falling 0.12 percent and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) is losing 0.83 percent. Husky Energy (HSE.TO) is dropping 0.30 percent and Encana (ECA.TO) is declining 1.33 percent.

The heavyweight Financial Index is decreasing 0.65 percent. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) is losing 1.03 percent and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) is down 0.55 percent. Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) is dropping 0.63 percent and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) is dropping 0.71 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) is weakening by 1.19 percent.

The Capped Industrials Index is down 0.47 percent. Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) is falling 0.15 percent and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) is losing 0.85 percent. Bombardier (BBD-B.TO) is declining 2.26 percent and Finning International (FTT.TO) is weakening by 1.81 percent. Air Canada (AC.TO) is decreasing 1.65 percent and WestJet Airlines (WJA.TO) is lower by 1.48 percent.

The Gold Index is increasing 1.09 percent. Gold prices are surging Friday as stocks flounder on President Donald Trump's steel tariffs against a number of U.S. trade rivals.

Goldcorp Inc. (G.TO) is climbing 0.68 percent and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) is gaining 1.85 percent. Kinross Gold (K.TO) is rising 1.06 percent and IAMGOLD (IMG.TO) is higher by 1.91 percent. B2Gold (BTO.TO) is increasing 1.02 percent and Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) is higher by 0.39 percent. Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO) is advancing 0.71 percent.

The Capped Telecommunication Services Index is up 0.45 percent. BCE (BCE.TO) is climbing 0.84 percent and TELUS (T.TO) is rising 0.37 percent. Rogers Communications (RCI-B.TO) is also higher by 0.47 percent.

The Capped Materials Index is up 0.27 percent. Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) is increasing 0.67 percent and Franco-Nevada (FNV.TO) is rising 1.08 percent.

George Weston (WN.TO) is up 0.22 percent after its fourth quarter profit fell sharply after one-time items.

On the economic front, Eurozone producer price inflation eased in January on energy prices, data from Eurostat showed Friday. Producer prices advanced 1.5 percent year-on-year, slower than the 2.2 percent increase logged in December. Prices were expected to climb 1.6 percent.

Germany's retail sales declined unexpectedly in January, figures from Destatis showed Friday. Retail sales decreased 0.7 percent month-on-month in January, confounding expectations for an increase of 0.7 percent. Sales had fallen 1.1 percent in December.

Germany's import price inflation eased to the lowest since late 2016, data from Destatis showed Friday.

Import prices climbed 0.7 percent year-on-year in January, in line with expectations, but slower than December's 1.1 percent increase. This was the slowest rate since November 2016, when prices grew 0.3 percent.

At the same time, export prices advanced 0.7 percent on year after climbing 1 percent in the previous month. On a monthly basis, export prices advanced 0.3 percent.

Germany's wholesale sales declined at the end of the year, after rising in the previous seven months, data from Destatis showed Friday. In real terms, wholesale sales dropped a price-adjusted 1.0 percent year-over-year in December, reversing a 4.1 percent rise in November.

The UK construction sector continued to expand at a subdued pace as fragile business sentiment and political uncertainty hinder client demand, survey data from IHS Markit showed Friday.

The IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply construction Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 51.4 in February from a 4-month low of 50.2 in January. The reading was above the expected level of 50.5.

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. improved by slightly less than initially estimated in the month of February, according to a report released by the University of Michigan on Friday, although the consumer sentiment index was still up sharply from January.

The report said the final reading on the consumer sentiment index for February came in at 99.7 compared to the initial estimate of 99.9. Economists had expected the index to be downwardly revised to 99.5.

In commodities, crude oil futures for April delivery are down 0.57 or 0.93 percent at $60.42 a barrel.

Natural gas for April is up 0.006 or 0.22 percent at $2.704 per million btu.

Gold futures for April are up 18.20 or 1.39 percent at $1,323.40 an ounce.

Silver for May is up 0.244 or 1.50 percent at $16.52 an ounce.

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