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Sigh Of Relief As Trump Relents? -- Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks were poised for a somewhat positive open Thursday amid tentative optimism that U.S. President Donald Trump will relent on threats of crippling tarrifs.

Trump has singled out Canada for its treatment of U.S. farmers, and also issued warning on higher tariffs for steel and aluminum. However, the White House now says Canada will be spared from higher steel tariffs while NAFTA is re-negotiated.

He says he will make further announcements on trade this afternoon from Washington, DC.

WTI light sweet oil was up 6 cents at $61.21 a barrel.

WestJet (WJA.TO) CEO Gregg Saretsky is retiring, replaced by Ed Sims, the company's executive vice president of commercial, effective immediately.

Machine parts maker Linamar (LIN.TO) said net earnings for 2017 came in at $549.4 million compared to $522.5 million a year earlier, on strong sales.

CN Rail (CNR.TO) was downgraded at Bank of America after the resignation of its CEO. Shares were downgraded to Neutral to Underperform with a price target lowered from $84 to $72.

In economic news, Canada's housing starts were 225,276 units in February 2018, compared to 224,572 units in January 2018, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

"The national trend in housing starts has been very stable since November 2017, masking offsetting trends for multi-unit and single-detached dwellings," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist. "Multi-unit starts have trended higher in recent months in most major urban centres while single-detached starts have trended lower."

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