Mixed markets message

North American markets took another breather Tuesday after two months of strong growth.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 48.41 points to 16,086.54, to offset Monday’s decline.

The market is up marginally in the first two days of March after surging by 11.7 per cent in the first two months of 2019.

“Nothing wrong with a breather once in a while,” says Dominique Barker, portfolio manager at CIBC Asset Management.

She said markets have marched higher on no news but can react negatively to any headline.

China’s overnight downgrading of its growth target to between six and 6.5 per cent in 2019 failed to ignite much reaction.

Neither did data saying new U.S. single-family home sales rose to a seven-month high in December or fresh U.S. administration comments that the U.S. and China were “on the cusp” of reaching a trade deal that could be settled at a summit later this month at the presidential retreat Mar-a-Lago.

“We’re kind of having a bit of exhaustion on that topic,” Barker said in an interview.

She said a deal is “more baked in than not” so that markets would only react to any degree if a resolution isn’t achieved.

In Toronto, the TSX was led by the health care sector as seven of the index’s 11 major sectors closed higher. The lone decreases were registered by utilities, consumer staples, industrials and telecommunications.

Health care lead as several marijuana producers saw large stock gains. Aurora Cannabis and Cronos Group Inc rose by more than 10 per cent.

REITs were up again Tuesday, rising about 12 per cent to date in 2019.

Materials was up as Hudbay Minerals Inc. gained more than two per cent on reports that it was getting closer to securing a permit after years of effort for the Rosemont Mine in Arizona. There was also a report by Citi calling for iron ore prices to rise to US$100 per tonne from about US$84 currently.

That would be positive for Labrador Iron Ore Royalty Corp. and Champion Iron Ltd.

The April gold contract was down US$2.80 at US$1,284.70 an ounce and the May copper contract was up 2.45 cents at US$2.93 a pound.

The energy sector rose 0.28 per cent despite a dip in crude prices. The April crude contract was down three cents at US$56.56 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was up 2.7 cents at US$2.88 per mmBTU.

The Canadian dollar traded for an average of 74.93 cents US compared with an average of 75.09 cents US on Monday.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 13.02 points at 25,806.63. The S&P 500 index was down 3.16 points at 2,789.65, while the Nasdaq composite was down 1.21 points at 7,576.36.

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