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Canadian Shares Exhibiting Weakness On Growth Worries

Canadian stocks are weak Thursday morning, as investors largely refrain from making significant purchases due to concerns about global economic slowdown and on continued uncertainty about U.S.-China trade negotiations.

Data showing Canada's household debt to be growing faster than its income and a sell-off in the materials space due to lower gold prices are also contributing to the market's weakness.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is down 52.72 points, or 0.33%, at 16,097.25. The index touched a high of 16,144.46 earlier this morning.

On Wednesday, the index ended up 13.31 points, or 0.08%, at 16,149.97.

On the economic front, data released by Statistics Canada said new housing prices fell in January for the first time since February 2018. The national index declined 0.1% in January, following five consecutive months of unchanged prices, the data said.

Also, the seasonally adjusted household credit market debt, as a proportion of disposable income, increased to 178.5% in the fourth quarter, compared to a revised reading of 178.3% in the third quarter.

The Capped Materials Index is down 1.6%. Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO), Franco-Nevada Corporation (FNV.TO), Teck Resources (TECK.B.TO), Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO), Wheaton Precious Metals (WPM.TO), Goldcorp Inc. (G.TO), First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) and CCL Industries (CCL.B.TO) are down 1 to 2.3%. Kirkland Lake Gold (KL.TO) is declining 2.7%, B2Gold Corp. (BTO.TO) is lower by 2.5%, Kinross Gold Corporation (K.TO) is down 2.6% and Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) is declining 3.7%.

Among energy shares, Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TOU.TO) is declining 1.7%, Husky Energy (HSE.TO) is down 1.1% and Parex Resources (PXT.TO) is lower by 1.2%.

Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) and Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) are higher by 0.5 to 1.2%. Crew Energy (CR.TO) is rising 6.25%, Birchcliff Energy (BIR.TO) is advancing 4% and CES Energy Solutions (CEU.TO) is up 3.5%.

In the banking space, Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) is gaining 0.5% and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) is up 0.3%, while Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) are flat.

The Capped Healthcare Index is down by about 1.2%. Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO), Cronos Group Inc. (CRON.TO) and Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB.TO) are down 1.7 to 2%. Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) is declining 1.3% and Green Organic Dutchman Holdings (TGOD.TO) is down 1.2%, while Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) is climbing up 3.7%.

Among the stocks in the industrials space, Magna International Inc. (MG.TO) is down 2.2%, Dollarama Inc. (DOL.TO) is declining 1.4%, Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC.A.TO) is down 1.1%, The Stars Group Inc. (TSGI.TO) is lower by 1% and BRP Inc. (BRP.TO) is down nearly 1%.

Meanwhile, Canada Goose Holdings Inc. (GOOS.TO), Gildan Activewear Inc. (GIL.TO) and Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GC.TO) are gaining 0.5 to 1.3%.

U.S. stocks are turning in a lackluster performance this morning, amid reports that the meeting to sign an agreement to end the U.S.-China trade war won't occur this month and is more likely to happen in April at the earlier.

Data showing a sharp 6.9% plunge in U.S. new home sales and more than expected increase in first-time claims also weighed on the market.

In commodities, crude oil futures for April are up $0.15, or 0.26%, at $58.42 a barrel.

Gold futures for April are declining $14.00, or 1.07%, at $1,295.30, while Silver futures for May are down $0.271, or 1.75%, at $15.185 an ounce.

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