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TSX Fails To Hold Early Gains, Ends Slightly Weak

The Canadian stock market opened on a firm note on Tuesday but suffered a couple of setbacks as the session progressed and eventually ended slightly weak.

While healthcare stocks turned in a fine performance, shares from the materials space tumbled after gold prices fell sharply, dragging the market down into negative territory.

There were gains for consumer discretionary and financial stocks. Energy, consumer staples and industrials shares ended mixed. Real estate stocks tumbled. Information technology stocks opened on a firm note, but lost their way as the session progressed.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended down 13.26 points, or 0.08%, at 16,502.20, slightly off the day's low of 16,498.59. The index climbed to 16,553.39 earlier in the day, and looked on course for a record high.

On the economic front, data from Statistics Canada showed manufacturing sales fell 0.2% in February to $56.6 billion, due to a retreat in the motor vehicle assembly and wood products industries. In January, sales were up 0.8%.

The report said sales were down in 15 of 21 industries, representing 65.9% of the Canadian manufacturing sector in February.

The motor vehicle assembly industry fell 4.4% in February, as vehicles sales declined. Excluding motor vehicle sales, manufacturing sales were up 0.2% in March.

According to another report from Statistics Canada, offshore investors bought $12 billion into Canadian investments in February following a significant investment of $28.6 billion in January, while Canadians investment in foreign securities increased to $5.3 billion, led by purchases of U.S. corporate bonds.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) jumped nearly 4% after the company said it is planning to acquire the remaining 48% of Hempco Food and Fiber Inc. that it does not already own through an exchange of shares. The Hempco acquisition will provide Aurora with a low-cost, high-volume source of hemp for the extraction of CBD, a substance with therapeutic properties that's also found in cannabis.

Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) ended higher by about 2.1%. Canopy announced it has completed an all-cash acquisition of Spain-based licensed cannabis producer Cáñamo y Fibras Naturales, S.L.

Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) ended higher by 0.3 to 0.8%.

Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) gained 2.3%, while Encana Corporation (ECA.TO), Baytex Energy (BTE.TO) and Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) declined sharply.

Yamana Gold (YRI.TO) declined more than 7%. Goldcorp (G.TO) and Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO) also ended sharply lower, while Lundin Mining Corporation (LUN.TO) advanced by 1.35%.

On Wall Street, stocks turned volatile in the late trading session on Tuesday but managed to finish the day modestly higher. The Dow and the Nasdaq ended the session at their best closing levels in over six months.

Positive reaction to earnings news from Dow components Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and UnitedHealth (UNH) lifted the market early on in the session. A report from the Federal Reserve showing industrial production unexpectedly edged lower in the month of March pulled the market down from higher levels.

European stocks ended mostly higher amid rising optimism about trade talks and on encouraging report on investors confidence in Germany.

Asian markets ended mostly higher on strong Chinese home prices data.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended up $0.65, or about 1%, at $64.05 a barrel.

Gold futures for June ended down $14.10, or 1.1%, at $1,277.20 an ounce.

Silver futures for May ended down $0.060, at $14.915 an ounce, while Copper futures for May ended at $2.9305 per pound, down $0.0045 from previous close.

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