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Canadian Shares Retreat After Positive Start

After opening on a steady note and staying firm for nearly a couple of hours, the Canadian stock market drifted lower in late morning trades on Wednesday.

Optimism about U.S.-China trade talks and easing fears about another government shutdown aided sentiment in early trades, but stocks retreated subsequently with investors turning wary of holding positions at higher levels.

Higher crude oil prices triggered some strong buying in the energy space, aiding the market's move up north in opening trades. Healthcare shares were among the other major gainers.

Financial, information technology, industrials and consumer staples shares exhibited some weakness. Gold stocks were mostly subdued.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index, which advanced to 15,689.66, is currently at 15,642.25, litte changed from previous close.

On Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 73.25 points, or 0.47%, at 15,642.10,

The Capped Energy Index is rising nearly 2%. Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) is gaining 6.35% after the company said it achieved record low per-barrel oil sands sustaining capital and operating costs. For the quarter ended December 2018, Cenovus posted net loss of $1.10 per share, as compared to net loss of $0.63 per share in the year-ago quarter.

Encana Corporation (ECA.TO) is gaining 4.5%, Tourmaline Oil Corporation (TOU.TO) is rising 4.8% and ARC Resources (ARX.TO) is up 3.4%. Vermilion Energy (VET.TO) and Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) are gaining 1.75% and 1.35%, respectively.

The Capped Healthcare Index is up 1.75%. Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) is up 4.75%, Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) is rising 1.6%, Cronos Group (CRON.TO) is gaining 2% and Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) is up 2.5%, while Green Organic Dutchman Holdings (TGOD.TO) is jumping 6%.

Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO) is declining 4% after the company said that its fourth-quarter net loss widened to $1.197 billion from $314 million in the prior year. Net loss per share widened to $1.02 from $0.27 last year.

Teck Resources (TECK.B.TO) is down 3.4% and BetaPro Natural Gas (HNU) is declining 4.9%.

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd (WFT.TO) reported adjusted earnings of $43 million or 63 cents per share, for the fourth quarter, as compared to earnings of $201 million or $2.58 per share in the year-ago quarter. The stock is down more than 5%.

Yellow Pages Limited (Y.TO) shares are rising 8.2% after the company reported net earnings of $39,957 for the quarter ended December 2018, as against net loss of $584,602 in the year-ago quarter.

On Wall Street, stocks pared some gains after a bright start. The Dow, which rose more than 0.8% early on in the session, is currently up by about 0.3%. The S&P 500 is up 0.2% and the Nasdaq is up marginally, having shed most of their early gains.

European markets ended mostly higher, despite giving up a good portion of their gains and stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday.

In commodities, crude oil futures for March are gaining $0.93, or 1.75%, at 54.03 a barrel.

Gold futures for April are gaining $2.50, or 0.19%, at $1,316.50 an ounce.

Silver futures for March are down $0.015, or 0.10%, at $15.675 an ounce, while Copper futures for March are declining $0.0030, or 0.12%, at $2.7690 per pound.

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