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Canadian Shares Drift Lower On Growth Worries, Unemployment Data

The Canadian stock market is notably lower Friday morning, with shares from across several sectors losing ground amid worries about global economic growth and on data showing an increase in unemployment.

European markets are drifting lower and U.S. stocks are down as well amid concerns about growth and uncertainty about U.S. and China striking a trade deal before the March 1 deadline.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is down 122.13 points, or 0.78%, at 15,581.23.

The Capped Energy Index is down more than 1%. Suncor Energy (SU.TO) is down by about 1.9% and Encana Corporation (ECA.TO) is declining 2.6%.

ARC Resources (ARX.TO) is gaining 4.1%. The company reported fourth quarter net income of $159.7 million, or $0.45 per share, as compared to $213.8 million, or $0.60 per share in the year-ago quarter.

The Capped Financial Index is losing about 0.85%. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) are down 0.4 to 1%.

Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC.TO) is declining 1.3% and Sun Life Financial Inc. (SLF.TO) is down 1.2%, while Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO) is down marginally.

The Consumer Discretionary Index is down 0.9%. Magna International (MG.TO) is declining 2.1%, The Stars Group Inc. (TSGI.TO) is down 1.4% and BRP Inc. (DOO.TO) is lower by 1.2%, while Linamar Corporation (LNR.TO) is down nearly 6%. Meanwhile, Canada Goose Holdings Inc. (GOOS.TO) is rising 1.2%.

Among the stocks in the Healthcare Index, Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO), Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO), Cronos Group (CRON.TO) and Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) are down 1 to 1.6%, while The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings (TGOD.TO) shares are gaining 1.75%.

CI Financial Corp. (CIX.TO) is down nearly 6% after reporting a drop in earnings in the fourth quarter, compared to the preceding quarter. The company reported earnings per share of $0.57 for the fourth quarter of 2018, up 12% from $0.51 for the fourth quarter of 2017, but down 8% from $0.62 for the third quarter of 2018.

SEMAFO Inc. (SMF.TO) shares are up 5.85% after the company said it expects consolidated production of between 390,000 and 430,000 ounces of gold in 2019, representing a 68% increase over 2018 production.

Cott Corporation (BCB.TO) today announced the sale of its soft drink concentrate production business and its RCI International division to Refresco for USD $50 million. RCI, in turn sold the RCI worldwide branded activities to RC Global Beverages Inc. The stock is modestly higher.

On the economic front, data released by Statistics Canada showed much better than expected Canadian job growth in the month of January. The data showed employment rose by 66,800 jobs in January following an increase of 9,300 jobs in the previous month. Economists were looking for a gain of 5,000 jobs.

However, the unemployment rate rose to 5.8% in the month, up from 5.6% in December. Economists had forecast a reading of 5.7%.

According to a report released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation this morning, the annual pace of housing starts in January slowed compared with December. The agency said the seasonally adjusted annual rate came in at 207,968 units for the first month of the year compared with 213,630 in December.

Economists had expected an annualized pace of 205,000 for January, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

The annual pace of urban starts slowed 2.1% in January and annual pace of multiple-unit projects such as condominiums, apartments and townhouses increased 0.7% to 146,353 units.

U.S. stocks are seeing downside this morning, amid lingering concerns about U.S.-China trade disputes. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. and China don't even have a draft accord that specifies where the two countries agree and disagree.

Recent reports said U.S. President Donald Trump to have said that he will not meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a crucial March deadline.

Most of the markets across Europe are notably lower amid concerns about growth after the European Commission lowered its growth forecast for the Euro area for 2019 and 2020.

Asian markets ended weak on Friday.

In commodities, crude oil futures for March are up marginally at $52.71 a barrel.

Gold futures for March are rising $3.60, or 0.27%, at $1,317.80 an ounce.

Silver futures for March are gaining $0.027, or 0.17%, at $15.740 an ounce, while Copper futures for March are down $0.0135, or 0.49%, at $2.815 per pound.

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