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Canadian Stocks Struggling To Move Higher After Weak Start

After opening on a weak note, the Canadian stock market emerged into positive territory Friday morning, but was seen struggling to edge further up since then with investors largely refraining from making significant moves.

Investors were reacting to news on the geopolitical front and the latest batch of economic data out of Canada and the U.S.

Healthcare, consumer discretionary and energy shares were exhibiting weakness, while materials shares moved higher. Information technology, financial and industrial shares were turning in a mixed performance.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 7.72 points, or 0.04%, at 17,227.85 a little past noon. Earlier, after declining to a low of 17,187.22, the index rose to 17,254.06.

On Thursday, the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 67.75 points, or 0.39%, at 17,235.57, after hitting a record high at 17,255.51.

On the economic front, data from Statistics Canada said the Canadian economy added 35,200 jobs in December 2019 after shedding 71,200 jobs in the previous month, which was the biggest decline since January 2009. Market had expected the economy to add about 25,000 jobs last month.

Full Time Employment in Canada increased by 38,400 in December 2019, while Part Time Employment dropped by 3,200 jobs in the month, compared to a drop of 32,800 a month earlier.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Canada fell to 5.6% in December 2019 from 5.9% in the previous month and below market expectations of 5.8%, data from Statistics Canada showed.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) declined more than 8.5% on huge volumes. Encana Corporation (ECA.TO) shed about 3.4%, while Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) both declined nearly 1%.

Corus Entertainment (CJR.B.TO) climbed nearly 6%. The company reported a net income of $78.1 million ($0.37 per share basic) for the quarter ended November 30, 2019 as compared to $60.4 million ($0.28 per share basic) in the corresponding quarter last year.

B2Gold Corp (BTO.TO) gained about 5.5% and First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) notched up a gain of about 3.5%. Osisko Mining (OSK.TO) was up 1.4%.

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