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4:15 p.m. ET: North American markets mixed to start trading week

North American markets finished well off the session lows, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index falling about 0.65 per cent, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average falling about one per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index rallying in the final hour of trade to finish Monday’s session up about 0.5 per cent.

It was a choppy session for North American equities, with the S&P 500 and Dow falling more than two per cent in midday trading before recouping some losses. The TSX initially rose out of the opening bells, but almost immediately fell into the red.

In Toronto, seven of the TSX’s 11 subgroups finished the session lower, with real estate, consumer discretionary and the heavyweight financials posting the largest percentage losses. Materials bucked the trend, with rising gold prices helping lift the group by more than five per cent.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. fell nearly 15 per cent after the pot producer announced plans for a 12-for-one stock consolidation to stay onside with NYSE listing requirements. The company fell afoul of the stock exchange operator’s requirements for minimum share prices.

Cineplex Inc. fell a little more than 10 per cent, slipping ever further away from the $34-per-share agreed-upon price in its takeover deal with U.K.-based Cineworld. The Telegraph reported earlier in the day some of the British theatre operator’s lenders were pushing for the company to scrap the deal as cinemas continue to be battered by COVID-19 closures.

Crude prices fell in spite of the record OPEC curtailment agreement, with West Texas Intermediate down a little more than half a per cent. Alberta’s Western Canadian Select was little changed at US$4.25 per barrel, though Canadian crude is only priced a handful of times per day.

1:15 p.m. ET – TSX pares losses, American stocks hold near session low       

The S&P/TSX Composite Index pared some of its losses into the early afternoon, falling about one per cent. South of the border, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average remained down about two per cent to hold near session lows, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell a little less than one per cent.

In Toronto, eight of the TSX’s 11 subgroups were in negative territory, with consumer discretionary, real estate and health care posting the largest declines. The materials subgroup was the outperformer, with the rising price of gold lifting the sector more than three-and-a-half per cent.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. and Cineplex Inc. remained the lead laggards on the composite, both suffering double-digit losses.

Crude prices clung to gains, with U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate rising a little less than one per cent to just shy of US$23 per barrel. Alberta’s Western Canadian Select outstripped that gain, rising to more than US$4.50 per barrel, though Canadian crude only prices a handful of times per day.

11:05 a.m. ET – North American markets extend declines, trade near session lows

North American equity markets accelerated lower into the late morning, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index shedding more than one-and-a-half per cent after an initial modest gain at the open of trading. South of the border, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both fell more than two per cent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index posted a more modest decline of about one per cent.

In Toronto, 10 of the 11 TSX subgroups were in negative territory, led lower by the real estate, consumer discretionary and utilities stocks. Information technology clung to positive territory.

Aurora Cannabis Inc. was the lead laggard on the composite, falling more than 13 per cent after the pot producer announced a 12-for-one stock consolidation in order to stay onside of NYSE listing rules.

Shares of Cineplex Inc. fell more than 11 per cent amid further concerns over the theatre operator’s plan to sell itself to U.K.-based operator Cineworld Group PLC. The Telegraph reported a group of the British company’s lenders are looking into legal challenges to the acquisition. Shares of Cineplex are now trading at about a third of the value of the $34 per share offer.

Oil pared earlier gains, with West Texas Intermediate prices essentially flat at just shy of US$23 per barrel.

10:00 a.m. ET – Equity markets muted in early trade after monster rally

North American markets lost ground to kick off the week with the S&P/TSX Composite Index, the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite Index falling to start the day.

All four North American benchmarks are coming off major rallies in last week’s holiday-shortened trade, with TSX rising nearly 10 per cent and the S&P 500 notching its largest weekly gain since 1974.

Oil prices were slightly higher in the wake of the OPEC curtailment agreement reached over the weekend, with West Texas Intermediate rising nearly three per cent to nearly US$24 per barrel. The group agreed to cut 9.7-million barrels per day worth of output, a level that doesn’t nearly meet the degree of the demand destruction in the face of the global economic hibernation to address the spread of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. There are also questions over how compliant the cartel and its non-OPEC partners will be with the planned cuts.

The Canadian dollar was little changed against its American counterpart, holding at about 71.50 cents U.S.

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