Stocks Fade by Thursday Close

Thursday proved an off day for markets in Toronto, as health-care and resource stocks failed to deliver.

The S&P/TSX Composite slid 100.71 points to end Thursday at 18,274.07.

The Canadian dollar strengthened 0.16 cents to 78.89 cents U.S.

Health-care issues weighed most on the index, with Aphria skidding $1.26, or 6.1%, to $19.35, while Aurora Cannabis lost $1.31, or 7.9%, to $15.26.

In the gold sector, Barrick Gold gave back 74 cents, or 2.8%, to $25.67, while Kinross Gold fell 16 cents, or 1.8%, to $8.52.

Energy stocks also failed to make the grade Thursday, as Imperial Oil slipped 51 cents, or 1.9%, to $26.18, while Seven Generations Energy surrendered 12 cents, or 1.3%, to $8.85.

On a more positive note, financials pulled ahead, with Equitable Group adding $2.37, or 2%, to $118.39, while Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services gained 93 cents, or 1.5%, to $64.73.

In utilities, Superior Plus took on 88 cents, or 6.7%, to $13.98, while Brookfield Infrastructure Partners picked up 41 cents to $65.81.

On the economic front, Statistics Canada said its new housing price index rose at its fastest pace since October, increasing 0.7% nationally in January.

Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign started on the same day in December as the United States, but it now lags dozens of countries, including its southern neighbor, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is feeling the pressure.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange lost 12.26 points, or 1.1%, to 1,072.09.

All but two of the 12 TSX subgroups were lower on the day as health-care cratered 4.5%, while gold toppled 1.5%, and energy stumbled 1.1%.

The gainers proved to be financials, up 0.3%, and utilities, ahead but 0.2%.

ON WALLSTREET

U.S. stocks slid on Thursday as investors were discouraged by a worse-than-expected jobless claims reading as well as a weak forecast from Walmart.

The Dow Jones Industrials came off their session lows, but still lost 119.68 points to 31,493.34, slipping from a record high. At its session low, the 30-stock benchmark was down more than 300 points.

The S&P 500 skidded 17.36 points to 3,913.97, falling for a third straight day.

The NASDAQ Composite tumbled 100.14 points to 13,865.36, as investors continued to rotate out of high-flying tech.

Walmart shares dropped 6.5% after its fourth-quarter earnings fell short of Wall Street estimates. The big-box retailer sees sales growth slowing this year as the pandemic momentum ebbs. It said earnings per share will decline, but will range flat to slightly higher after excluding divestitures.

Shares of Apple fell another 0.9%. The tech giant is down 4.2% so far this week as investors take some profits in the Big Tech stocks that have led the market back to a record. Tesla dipped 1.4%, bringing its week-to-date losses to 3.5%.

Corporate America is wrapping up a strong earnings season and policymakers in Washington bargain on another round of stimulus. One expert said that finalizing the stimulus deal could provide another move higher for the markets even if it is somewhat priced in already.

First-time filings for unemployment insurance totaled 861,000 last week, the highest level in a month and above the Dow Jones estimate of 773,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

The Congressional hearings on the GameStop saga got underway on Thursday, with leaders of Melvin Capital and Robinhood joining Reddit trader Keith Gill at the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services.

Prices for 10-Year Treasurys lost ground, raising yields back to Wednesday’s 1.29%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices sank $1.09 to $60.05 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices added $1.20 to $1,774.00