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Canadian Market Exhibiting Weakness As U.S.-China Tensions Weigh

After a slightly weak start, the Canadian stock market briefly edged higher before retreating amid cautious moves by investors Friday morning.

Worries about U.S.-China tensions and weak Canadian retail sales data weighed down the market.

Energy, financial and healthcare stocks declined, while shares from information technology and materials sections moved up. Consumer staples and industrial stocks were mostly subdued around previous closing levels.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 34.29, or 0.23%, at 14,850.56 at noon. The index, which touched a high of 14,929.34 earlier, slipped to a low of 14,834.82.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO), which saw some big gains in recent sessions, declined 6% on profit taking.

Manulife Financial (MFC.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) were down 2 to 2.5% a little before noon.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was lower by about 1.6%, while Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) and Magna International (MG.TO) shed 1.25% and 1.1%, respectively.

Lightspeed Pos (LSPD.TO), which ended with a hefty gain on Thursday, extended its uptick, and was up nearly 4% in late morning trades. Shopify Inc. (SHOP.TO) gained 2.75% and Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO) gained nearly 1.5%.

According to the data released a little while ago, retail sales in Canada plunged 10% over a month earlier in March 2020, after rising an upwardly revised 0.4% in February. It was the largest drop in retail trade on record.

Retail Sales were down 8.4% in March 2020, compared to sales in the same month last year.

Concerns about rising tensions between the U.S. and China rendered the mood a bit bearish.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that Washington would react "very strongly" if China follows through on its plans of strengthening control over Hong Kong with new security laws.

The latest developments come after the Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would potentially delist Chinese stocks from U.S. exchanges.

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