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Canadian Stocks Mostly Sluggish In Cautious Trade

After a positive start and a subsequent fall into the red, the Canadian stock market regained some lost ground Thursday morning, with investors largely making cautious moves, reacting to the latest batch of economic data from Canada and the U.S., and amid lingering worries about U.S.-China trade issues.

Energy and materials shares were a bit sluggish. Shares from healthcare and consumer discretionary sections were weak, while those financial, information technology and industrials exhibited a mixed trend.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 17.28 points, or 0.1%, at 16,195.36. Earlier, after advancing to a high of 16,241.58, the index dropped to a low of 16,175.12.

In the healthcare space, Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO), Cronos Group (CRON.TO), CannTrust Holdings (TRST.TO), Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO), Bausch Health Companies (BHC.TO) and Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) lost 1 to 3%.

Canada Goose Holdings (GOOS.TO), down 3.6%, was the most prominent loser in the Consumer Discretionary Index. BRP Inc. (BRP.TO) was down 2.5%, Stars Group Inc. (TSGI.TO) was declining 1.3%, Magna International (MG.TO) was down 1.2% and Restaurant Brands International (QSR.TO) eased by about 1%.

Meanwhile, Linamar Corp. (LNR.TO) and Hudsons Bay Company (HBC.TO) shares were up 1.3% and 1.25%, respectively.

Among materials shares, Ivanhoe Mines (IVN.TO), Hudbay Minerals (HBM.TO), Oceanagold Corp. (OGC.TO) and B2Gold Corp. (BTO.TO) were up 1 to 2%, while Iamgold Corp. (IMG.TO), Methanex Corp. (MX.TO) and West Fraser Timber (WFT.TO) were declining 2 to 4%.

Among energy stocks, Precision Drilling Corporation (PD.TO), Whitecap Resources (WCP.TO), Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) and Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TOU.TO) were up with sharp to moderate gains.

On the other hand, MEG Energy (MEG.TO), Husky Energy (HSE.TO), Enerflex (EFX.TO) and Encana Corp (ECA.TO) were down 1 to 2%.

In the fianancial space, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) were down with modest losses, while Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO), Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) and Laurentian Bank (LB.TO) gained marginally. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) were flat.

In Canadian economic news, data from Statistics Canada said exports were up 1.3% in April, while imports decreased 1.4%. Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world narrowed from $2.3 billion in March to $966 million in April.

A report from Western University's IVEY School of Business said its purchasing managers' index rang in at 55.9 in May, identical to April's reading, but way below the 62.9 figure shown in May 2018.

On Wall Street, stocks were turning in a lackluster performance after two days of solid gains. Investors, weighing optimism about interest rate cut and concerns about trade disputes, were also digesting data showing initial jobless claims staying unchanged from previous week's revised level and a report from the Commerce Department that showed U.S. trade deficit narrowed in the month of April.

European markets retreated after staying fairly steady and markets across Asia-Pacific turned in a mixed performance.

In commodities, crude oil futures gave up earlier gains and were flat at $51.67 a barrel.

Gold futures were gaining $6.20, or 0.47%, at $1,339.80 an ounce, while Silver futures for July were up $0.089, or 0.6%, at $14.880 an ounce.

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