Markets Struggle to Breakeven Point

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Equities in Canada’s largest market were dragged down by energy stocks on Friday, as oil prices fell and tensions between the United States and China rose.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index were down 19.06 points, to move into noon hour Friday at 14,865.79.

China is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong after last year’s pro-democracy unrest, a Chinese official said on Thursday, drawing a warning from U.S. President Donald Trump that Washington would react “very strongly” against the attempt to gain more control over the former British colony.

The largest percentage gainer on the TSX was software developer Lightspeed POS, which jumped $1.52, or 4.5%, to $35.70, as multiple brokerages raised price targets on the stock.

Lightspeed was followed by miner Wesdome Gold Mines, which rose 30 cents, or 2.4%, to $13.04, as rising Sino-U.S. tension drew concerned investors to safe havens.

Aurora Cannabis fell $1.41, or 5.9%, the most on the TSX, to $22.69, after several brokerages cut price targets on the pot company’s stock.

The second-biggest decliner was Vermilion Energy, down 18 cents, or 2.5%, to $7.13.

On the economic ledger, Statistics Canada reported retail trade fell for the first time in five months, plunging 10% to $47.1 billion in March. This marked the largest drop on record and the lowest level since November 2016.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange stayed above water 3.78 points to 535.61.

Seven of the 12 TSX subgroups faded by midday, with financials poorer 1.6%, energy lagging 1.2%, and real-estate 0.9% less solid.

The five gainers consisted of information technology, up 2.1%, materials, ahead 1.2%, and gold, moving higher 1%.

ON WALLSTREET

Stocks dipped on Friday as tensions between China and the U.S. offset the increasing optimism around a potential coronavirus vaccine.

The Dow Jones Industrials lost another 119.96 points to move into noon EDT at 24,354.16.

The S&P 500 docked 7.32 points to 2,941.19.

The NASDAQ skidded 7.51 points to 9,277.38.

Monday, markets in the U.S. will be shuttered for Memorial Day.

The Dow was up more than 3% week to date and was headed for its biggest one-week gain since the week of April 9. The S&P 500 has gained just below 3% this week while the NASDAQ Composite is up 3% in that time.

Retailers such as TJX and Gap are among the best-performing stocks this week. TJX is up over 15% week to date while Gap advanced over 7%. Citgroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are also up more than 2% each this week.

Overnight, China released draft legislation over new national security measures on Hong Kong after last year’s burst of anti-government protests in the city.

That law is expected to increase Beijing’s hold over Hong Kong. China also opted against setting a Gross Domestic Product target for 2020 as the coronavirus batters the second-largest economy in the world.

Prices for the 10-Year Treasury gained ground, lowering yields to 0.65% from Thursday’s 0.68%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slid $1.33 to $32.59 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices picked up $10.70 to $1,732.60 U.S. an ounce.

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