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Canadian Stocks Are Struggling To Find Direction - Canadian Commentary

The Canadian stock market has been fluctuating between small gains and losses since the open Wednesday. Geopolitical concerns are weighing on investor sentiment, after North Korea threatened to cancel an historic meeting between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

In a statement published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korean First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan suggested that Trump must accept the reclusive communist country as a nuclear power.

"If the U.S. is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-U.S. summit," Kim said.

Kim pointed to "unbridled remarks" by U.S. officials such as National Security Adviser John Bolton calling on North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons first and be compensated afterward.

Markets on Wall Street are inching higher in early trade Wednesday.

Markets in Europe are turning in a mixed performance Wednesday. The markets have been stuck in a sideways patter throughout the session, fluctuating between small gains and losses.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is down 10.72 points or 0.07 percent at 16,087.09.

On Tuesday, the index closed up 12.20 points or 0.08 percent, at 16,097.81. The index scaled an intraday high of 16,132.13 and a low of 16,053.30.

The Gold Index is decreasing 0.40 percent. Gold prices are nearly flat Wednesday morning following the significant losses of the previous day.

Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) is losing 0.12 percent and Kinross Gold (K.TO) is weakening by 0.64 percent. Goldcorp (G.TO) is falling 0.58 percent.

The Energy Index is falling 0.20 percent. Crude oil prices are dipping Wednesday morning, unable to extend recent gains. A stronger dollar and concerns about global demand weighed on energy prices.

Husky Energy (HSE.TO) is down 0.11 percent. Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) is lower by 0.24 percent. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) is surrendering 0.51 percent and Enbridge (ENB.TO) is losing 0.56 percent. Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) is weakening by 0.84 percent and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) is declining 1 percent. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) is falling 0.23 percent.

The heavyweight Financial Index is decreasing 0.12 percent. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) is down 0.15 percent and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) is lower by 0.02 percent. National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) is falling 0.16 percent.

The Capped Healthcare Index is lower by 0.15 percent. ProMetic Life Sciences (PLI.TO) is falling 8 percent.

Marijuana major Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED.TO) has applied to have its stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares are rising 0.28 percent.

Conifex Timber (CFF.TO) is climbing 1.06 percent after it announced that it will buy large sawmills in Florida and Arkansas.

On the economic front, Canada's manufacturing sales rose 1.4% to $57.1 billion in March. Higher sales at primary metal, aerospace product and parts, fabricated metal product, and the other transportation equipment industries were mostly responsible for the increase.

Eurozone inflation eased slightly in April, as estimated, final data from Eurostat showed Wednesday. Inflation slowed to 1.2 percent in April from 1.3 percent in March. The rate came in line with the estimate published on May 3.

Germany's consumer price inflation held steady in April, as previously estimated, final data from Destatis showed Wednesday. Consumer prices climbed 1.6 percent year-on-year in April, the same rate of increase as seen in March and in line with the estimate released on April 30.

New residential construction in the U.S. pulled back by much more than anticipated in the month of April, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday. The report said housing starts plunged by 3.7 percent to an annual rate of 1.287 million in April after jumping by 3.6 percent to an upwardly revised 1.336 million in March.

Economists had expected housing starts to drop to an annual rate of 1.310 million from the 1.319 million originally reported for the previous month.

The report said building permits also tumbled by 1.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.352 million in April after surging up by 4.1 percent to an upwardly revised 1.377 million in March. Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to edge down to 1.350 million from the 1.354 million originally reported for the previous month.

A report released by the Federal Reserve on Wednesday showed industrial production in the U.S. increased by slightly more than anticipated in the month of April. The Fed said industrial production climbed by 0.7 percent in April, matching the upwardly revised increase in March.

Economists had expected industrial production to rise by 0.6 percent compared to the 0.5 percent growth originally reported for the previous month.

In commodities, crude oil futures for June delivery are down 0.57 or 0.80 percent at $70.74 a barrel.

Natural gas for June is down 0.016 or 0.56 percent at $2.82 per million btu.

Gold futures for June are up 0.20 or 0.02 percent at $1,290.50 an ounce.

Silver for July is up 0.041 or 0.25 percent at $16.31 an ounce.

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