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Canadian Market Flat In Cautious Trade; Energy Stocks Rally

After a slightly weak start and a subsequent recovery that lifted the benchmark to a new high, the Canadian stock market retreated amid cautious moves by investors on Monday.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index, which advanced to 16,616.28 after a weak start, slipped again and was down 13.70 points, or 0.08%, at 16,599.11.

Energy stocks gained, after crude oil prices rose to near six-month highs after the U.S. said it would end sanctions waivers in May that had previously allowed eight countries to purchase crude from Iran.

Healthcare shares were the other prominent gainers. Materials, consumer discretionary and telecommunications stocks were weak, while financial, industrial, information technology and industrials shares were turning in a mixed performance.

Among energy shares, Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Encana Corporation (ECA.TO), Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TOU.TO), Vermilion Energy (VET.TO) and PrairieSky Royalty (PSK.TO) gained 1 to 2%, while Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) rose 2.7%.

Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO), Baytex Energy (BTE.TO), Whitecap Resources (WCP.TO) and Surge Energy (SGY.TO) were up 3.4 to 4.7%.

Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO), Goldcorp (G.TO), Franco-Nevada Corporation (FNV.TO) and Teck Resources (TECK.B.TO) shed 0.6 to 1.2%, while First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) declined more than 3%. Methanex Corporation (MX.TO) and Kirkland Lake Gold (KL.TO) were up 2.5% and 0.8%, respectively.

In the consumer discretionary space, Restaurant Brands International (QSR.TO) was down 3.2%, Stars Group (TSGI.TO) was declining 2% and Canada Goose Holdings (GOOS.TO) was lower by 1.3%, while Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GC.TO) advanced 1%.

Among the stocks in the healthcare index, Cannabis Growth Corporation (WEED.TO), Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) and Cronos Group (CRON.TO) were up 4.3 to 5%.

Green Organic Dutchman Holdings (TGOD.TO) shares were rising 3.7% after the company announced that it has received its oil sales licence from Health Canada pursuant to the Cannabis Act for its Hamilton, Ontario facility.

CannTrust Holdings Inc. (TRST.TO) declined 3%. CannTrust announced today that it is planning a secondary offering of $200 million of its common shares to raise finance for cultivation and facility expansion and for upgrading its extraction capacity.

CannTrust said it expects revenue of about C$17 million, up from C$7.8 million in the year-earlier period. Net income is expected to range from C$12 million to C$14 million, up from C$11.4 million, the company said.

Among bank stocks, Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) shed 0.6% and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) was lower by about 0.25%, while the others were little changed from previous closing levels.

U.S. stocks recovered after initial weakness, but were still mostly subdued with investors awaiting results from a slew of top companies in the coming days.

On the U.S. economic front, the National Association of Realtors released a report that showed existing home sales plunged by 4.9% to an annual rate of 5.21 million in March after soaring by 11.2% to a revised rate of 5.48 million in February.

Economists had expected existing home sales to tumble by 3.8% to a rate of 5.30 million from the 5.51 million originally reported for the previous month.

European markets were shut for the Easter Monday holiday, while Asian markets ended mixed.

In commodities, crude oil futures for May were rising $1.70, or about 2.7%, at $65.70 an ounce.

Gold futures for June were up $0.60, or 0.05%, at $1,276.60 an ounce.

Silver futures for May were flat at $14.955 an ounce, while Copper futures for May were declining $0.0135, or 0.46%, at $2.9065 per pound.

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