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TSX Settles Lower On Growth Concerns

The Canadian stock market ended weak on Thursday, after struggling in negative territory right through the session, led by losses in materials section after gold prices tumbled from 2-week highs.

Continued uncertainty about U.S.-China trade deal, global growth worries and data showing Canada's household debt to be growing faster than its income too contributed to the weakness in the market.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended down 62.42 points, or 0.39%, at 16,087.55, slightly off the day's low of 16,083.11. The index touched a high of 16,144.46 in early trades.

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

The Capped Materials Index shed 1.84%. Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO), Franco-Nevada Corporation (FNV.TO), Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO), B2Gold Corp. (BTO.TO) and Wheaton Precious Metals (WPM.TO) lost 1 to 2%.

Among bank stocks, Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) gained 0.6%, while the rest ended little changed from previous closing levels.

Teck Resources (TECK.B.TO) declined 2.75%, Kinross Gold (K.TO) ended 2.3% down, Goldcorp Inc. (G.TO) eased 2.35%, Kirkland Lake Gold (KL.TO) declined nearly 3%, First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) ended 3.4% down and Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) closed lower by nearly 4%.

In the energy space, Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TOU.TO) declined 2.8%, Husky Energy (HSE.TO) ended 1.8% down, PrairieSky Royalty (PSK.TO) finished lower by nearly 1.5%, Baytex Energy (BTE.TO) ended 1.2% down and Cresecent Point Energy (CPG.TO) shed 2%.

Among the stocks in the healthcare index, Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) lost 0.8%, Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) declined 1.27%, Cronos Group Inc. (CRON.TO) ended 1.4% down and Aphria (APHA.TO) settled modestly lower, while Green Organic Dutchman Holdings (TGOD.TO) and Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) gained 1.3% and 3.6%, respectively.

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.

U.S. stocks ended mixed. Uncertainty about Brexit kept traders on the sidelines. The U.K. MPs today voted in favor of delaying Brexit after they rejected the idea of leaving the European Union without a deal.

Renewed concerns about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China weighed on the markets after a report from Bloomberg said a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping has been pushed back.

European markets ended higher and markets in Asia turned in a mixed performance.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended up $0.35, or 0.6%, at $58.61 a barrel, a fresh high since mid-November.

Gold futures for April ended down $14.20, or 1.1%, at $1,295.10 an ounce.

Silver futures for May ended down $0.285, at $15.171 an ounce, while Copper futures for May ended at $2.8915 per pound, down $0.0440 from previous close.

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