CANADA STOCKS-TSX falls as NAFTA optimism dulls

Aug 31 – Canada’s main stock index slipped on Friday following a report that a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal with the United States might not be concluded by the end of the day.

* At 9:38 a.m. ET (13:38 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 26.22 points, or 0.16 percent, at 16,345.33.

* Canada and the United States will make a final push to iron out differences on a pact to revamp the NAFTA by the Friday deadline set by U.S. President Donald Trump.

* However, Canada’s government officials have expressed concern that a final trade pact will not be reached within the deadline, according to a Globe and Mail report.

* There was a rebound in global trade worries following a report on Thursday that Trump was preparing to step up a trade war with Beijing by imposing tariffs on $200 billion more in Chinese imports by end of next week.

* Seven of the index’s 11 major sectors were lower, led by the energy sector’s 0.6 percent drop as oil prices were pressured by trade worries.

* Canadian Natural Resources fell 0.8 percent and Cenovus Energy declined 1.3 percent, among biggest lags on the energy index.

* U.S. crude prices were down 0.3 percent a barrel, while Brent crude lost 0.2 percent.

* The heavyweight financials sector slipped 0.2 percent. Biggest drags on the index were Royal Bank of Canada , Bank of Montreal and Manulife Financial Corp’s declines between 0.3-0.8 percent.

* The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.1 percent as gold futures rose 0.4 percent to $1,202.5 an ounce. Copper prices declined 0.6 percent to $6,027.5 a tonne.

* On the TSX, 90 issues were higher, while 146 issues declined for a 1.62-to-1 ratio to the downside, with 9.42 million shares traded.

* The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were cannabis companies Aphria Inc, which jumped 2.6 percent and Canopy Growth Co, which rose 2.5 percent.

* Trican Well Service fell 3 percent, the most on the TSX. The second-biggest decliner was BRP Inc, down 2.3 percent.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were marijuana companies Cronos Group Inc, Aurora Cannabis and Aphria Inc.

* The TSX posted two new 52-week highs and no new lows.

* Across all Canadian issues there were 14 new 52-week highs and six new lows, with total volume of 15.93 million shares. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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