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TSX Settles Notably Lower As Stocks Tumble On Growth Worries

The Canadian stock market tumbled on Friday, hurt by disappointing data on Canadian retail sales and consumer inflation, global economic slowdown and a sharp drop in crude oil prices.

Losses in energy, healthcare, financial and information technology shares led the market down south. Consumer discretionary, materials and industrials shares shares also posted losses.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended down 155.26 points, or 0.96%, at 16,089.33, after falling to a low of 16,043.86 in early afternoon trades.

On Thursday, the index ended up 77.03 points, or 0.48%, at 16,244.59. The index lost about 0.31% in the week.

The Capped Financial Index shed 1.23%. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) shed 1 to 2%. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) lost 2.25%.

The Capped Energy Index shed 2.73%. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Imperial Oil (IMO.TO), Vermilion Energy (VET.TO), Husky Energy (HSE.TO) and PrairieSky Royalty (PSK.TO) lost 2 to 3%. Encana Corporation (ECA.TO) declined 4.2% and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) ended 4.3% down.

The Capped Healthcare Index declined 2.7%, with almost all top cannabis stocks posting sharp losses. Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) ended 5.3% down, Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) lost 3.2%, Cronos Group (CRON.TO) plunged 6%, Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) shed 4.4%, Green Organic Dutchman Holdings (TGOD.TO) tumbled 5%, Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) declined 5.75% and CannTrust Holdings (TRST.TO) lost 3%.

In the materials space, Nutrien (NTR.TO), Teck Resources (TECK.B.TO), Goldcorp Inc. (G.TO), First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) and CCL Industries (CCL.B.TO) declined sharply, while Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO), Franco-Nevada Corporation (FNV.TO), Kirkland Lake Gold (KL.TO) and Wheaton Precious Metals (WPM.TO) closed with strong gains.

Information technology stocks Shopify Inc. (SHOP.TO), BlackBerry (BB.TO), Descartes Systems Group (DSG.TO), Celestica Inc. (CLS.TO) and Enghouse Systems (ENGH.TO) declined sharply.

On the economic front, data released by Statistics Canada showed the annual pace of inflation edged higher in February as gains in most spending categories offset lower gasoline prices.

The report said the consumer price index in February climbed 1.5% compared with a year ago. In January, the index had climbed 1.4%.

An 8.1% increase in mortgage interest costs and a 14.3% jump in the cost of vegetables pushed the inflation higher.

The cost of gasoline was down 11.9% compared with the same month last year as overall energy prices slipped 5.7%. Excluding gasoline, the annual pace of inflation held steady at 2.1%, the same as January.

Another report from Statistics Canada said retail sales fell 0.3% to $50.1 billion in January, sliding for the third consecutive month.

Used car sales and new car sales dropped 2.7% and 2.4%, respectively.

Among other markets, Wall Street ended sharply lower as lingering uncertainty about U.S.-China trade talks and the weak outlook for the economy outweighed data showing a jump in existing home sales.

The Dow tumbled 1.8%, the S&P 500 shed 1.9% and the Nasdaq plummeted 2.5%.

European markets ended on a weak note as well with highly disappointing eurozone economic data triggering heavy selling across several sectors.

Asian markets ended on a muted note on Friday after a lackluster session.

Ahead of another round of high-level talks in Beijing next week, there are still divisions over tariffs.

The U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this week that his administration would leave tariffs on Chinese products in place even if the two sides reach an agreement, while China wants an immediate end to all tariffs.

On the Brexit front, EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the Article 50 process for another two weeks until April 12.

Prime Minister Theresa May will have an extra two months until May 22 if she builds support for pushing her withdrawal deal through Parliament.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended down $0.94, or 1.6%, at $59.04 a barrel.

Gold futures for April ended up $5.00, or 0.4%, at $1,312.30 an ounce, the highest settlement since February 28.

Silver futures for May ended down $0.030, at $15.407 an ounce, while Copper futures for May ended at $2.8424 per pound, gaining $0.0635 for the session.

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