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TSX Ends Lower Again On Growth Worries

The Canadian stock market ended notably lower on Friday, as mounting concerns about global growth and doubts about China and the U.S. striking a trade deal before the expiry of the 90-day truce weighed on sentiment and triggered heavy selling at several counters.

Investors were also reacting to data showing Canadian unemployment to have increased in January, although jobs added in the month too saw a bigger than expected increase.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended down 70.03 points, or 0.45%, at 15,633.33, after falling to a low of 15,567.84.

On Thursday, the index ended down 8.95 points, or 0.06%, at 15,703.36. For the week, the index gained about 0.82%.

Healthcare stocks were the most prominent losers. Energy and consumer discretionary stocks too were mostly weak. Financial, consumer staples, materials and industrial shares turned in a mixed performance.

The Capped Energy Index shed 0.92%. Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO), Imperial Oil (IMO.TO), Vermilion Energy (VET.TO) and PrairieSky Royalty (PSK.TO) lost 1 to 1.7%, while Encana Corporation (ECA.TO) ended 3.8% down. Enbridge Inc. (ENB.TO) ended 2.8% down.

MEG Energy (MEG.TO) and Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) both ended higher by about 2.5%.

ARC Resources (ARX.TO) jumped more than 8% after 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 Healthcare Index lost nearly 3%. Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) declined 3.4% and Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) both ended lower by 3.4%, Cronos Group (CRON.TO) tumbled 8.2%, Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) ended 2.6% down and Hexo Corp (HEXO.TO) closed 2.75% down.

The Capped Information Technology Index gained 0.62%. Shopify Inc. (SHOP.TO), which moved up 2%, was the prominent performer in the index.

Among materials shares, Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO) gained nearly 2%, Wheaton Precious Metals (WPM.TO) advanced 1.3% and Kirkland Lake Gold (KL.TO) ended nearly 2% up, while Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) gained 2.5%. Teck Resources (TECK.B.TO) shed 1.8% and First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) declined 5.3%.

Among bank stocks, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) and Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) ended lower by about 0.4%. National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) ended marginally down.

CI Financial Corp. (CIX.TO) shares ended 4.7% down 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 gained 5.3% 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 edged down marginally.

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. markets ended notably lower. Markets in Europe and Asia too closed weak on Friday, amid rising concerns about global growth and on lack of progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for March ended up $0.08, or 0.2%, at $52.72 a barrel.

Gold futures for April ended up $4.30, or 0.3%, at $1,318.50 an ounce.

Silver futures for March ended up $0.096, at $15.809 an ounce, while Copper futures for March settled at $2.8105 per pound, down $0.0180 from previous close.

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