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Canadian Stocks Are Inching Higher In Cautious Trade - Canadian Commentary

The Canadian stock market started Monday's session in the red, but has since climbed into positive territory. Concerns over a potential trade war remain at the forefront for traders at the start of the new trading week.

In a Twitter post, U.S. President Trump indicated that tariffs on steel and aluminum would only be removed if the U.S. negotiates a "new & fair" NAFTA agreement.

"We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed," Trump tweeted.

He added, "Also, Canada must treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive. Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S. They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying."

The majority of the European markets are holding onto modest gains Monday. After a weak start, the market climbed in early trade before settling into a sideways pattern. Investors are in a cautious mood as they await details on U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum imports.

Markets on Wall Street are down at the start of the new trading week. Trading activity is rather subdued Monday morning due to lingering concerns about a global trade war. Traders are also looking forward to the release of the U.S. jobs report on Friday.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is up 16.19 points or 0.11 percent at 15,400.78.

On Friday, the index closed down 9.36 points or 0.06 percent, at 15,384.59. The index scaled an intraday high of 15,404.87 and a low of 15,286.55.

The Capped Healthcare Index is higher by 3.72 percent. ProMetic Life Sciences (PLI.TO) is rising 5.80 and Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX.TO) is climbing 4.96 percent. Extendicare (EXE.TO) is adding 0.35 percent.

The Energy Index is rising 0.67 percent. Crude oil prices are rising Monday morning, ahead of a meeting between OPEC and U.S. shale firms.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO) is higher by 0.37 percent and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) is climbing 1.03 percent. Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) is rising 3.17 percent and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) is gaining 0.53 percent. Husky Energy (HSE.TO) is advancing 0.65 percent and Encana (ECA.TO) is adding 0.74 percent. Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) is increasing 1.05 percent and Enbridge (ENB.TO) is up 0.30 percent.

The Gold Index is increasing 0.39 percent. Gold prices are little changed Friday, as traders look ahead to Friday's U.S. jobs report.

Goldcorp Inc. (G.TO) is climbing 1.43 percent and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) is gaining 0.81 percent. IAMGOLD (IMG.TO) is higher by 0.29 percent and Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) is higher by 0.26 percent. Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO) is advancing 2.13 percent.

The Capped Materials Index is up 0.35 percent. Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) is increasing 0.20 percent and Nutrien (NTR.TO) is rising 2.45 percent.

The Capped Telecommunication Services Index is up 0.12 percent. BCE (BCE.TO) is climbing 0.43 percent and TELUS (T.TO) is rising 0.09 percent.

The Capped Industrials Index is down 0.56 percent. Air Canada (AC.TO) is decreasing 1.45 percent and WestJet Airlines (WJA.TO) is lower by 2.68 percent. Finning International (FTT.TO) is weakening by 2.39 percent.

Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) is falling 1.03 percent. The company's Board announced that Luc Jobin is leaving the company, effective immediately. The Board has appointed Jean-Jacques Ruest Interim President and CEO.

On the economic front, the services sector in China continued to expand in February, albeit at a slightly slower pace, the latest survey from Caixin showed on Monday with a services PMI score of 54.2.

That's down from 54.7 in January, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The Eurozone private sector expanded slightly less than initially estimated in February, final data from IHS Markit showed Monday. The composite output index dropped to 57.1 from January's near 12-year high of 58.8. The flash reading was 57.5.

Eurozone investor confidence weakened sharply in March largely due to the deterioration in Germany, survey data from think tank Sentix showed Monday. The investor sentiment index fell to 24.0 in March from 31.9 in February. The score was forecast to drop moderately to 30.9.

Eurozone retail sales dropped marginally in January, as expected, figures from Eurostat revealed Monday. The volume of retail trade fell slightly by 0.1 percent month-on-month in January, following December's 1 percent decrease. The rate came in line with expectations.

British service sector activity expanded at the fastest pace in four months in February on strong upturn in new work, survey data from IHS Markit showed Monday. The IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply Purchasing Managers' Index, rose more-than-expected to 54.5 in February from 53.0 in January. The score was forecast to rise to 53.3.

In commodities, crude oil futures for April delivery are up 0.40 or 0.65 percent at $61.65 a barrel.

Natural gas for April is up 0.017 or 0.63 percent at $2.712 per million btu.

Gold futures for April are down 2.00 or 0.15 percent at $1,321.40 an ounce.

Silver for May is down 0.061 or 0.37 percent at $16.405 an ounce.

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