Canada Stocks Close Down More Than 30 Pts As Market Watchers Says Investors Are Putting Their Money In Cash Instead; Aphria and AltaGas In The News

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Canada’s main stock market, the Toronto Stock Exchange, on Thursday closed down 32.7 points at 14,750.35, above a day low 14,721.30 touched inside the last hour of trading, but 120 points off an early day high as a plethora of issues cast a shadow over markets — including uncertainty about the pace of global economic growth, trade disputes, rate policies in a whole host of countries (including the U.S. and Canada), Brexit and geopolitical concerns (including those around Saudi Arabia).

Diana Avigdor of Barometer Capital Management told BNN Bloomberg TV just as the market was closing that her firm is getting no calls on stock valuations, all calls are on technical issues. “Investors just want to know where is the support, where is the resistance?,” she said, adding that few investors are putting “real money” in to the stock market, but lots of investors are putting their money in cash.

Among commodities, gold futures closed down US$2.60, -0.2%, at $1,247.40 per ounce. But oil prices rose 2.8% on Thursday after a report that Saudi Arabia plans to cut shipments to U.S. refiners in order to avoid building up U.S. oil stocks. West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery settled up US$1.43 to US$52.58 per barrel. Brent crude for February delivery was last seen up US$1.36 to US$61.51.

In corporate news, the big story may have come late in the session. Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO, APHA) plans to issue a full rebuttal as soon as possible to a short-seller report alleging it acquired a number of Latin American assets at “vastly inflated prices” once its internal review behind the transactions with an independent committee is completed, BNN Bloomberg is reporting Thursday. APHA lost 9.5% on the TSX today.

In other news, AltaGas (ALA.TO) rose near 10% on Thursday after the company said it is cutting its dividend by 56% and boosting asset sales as it looks to pay the bill for its $8.4 billion acquisition of U.S. utility WGL Holdings. The company said the monthly dividend on its common shares will be reduced to $0.08 from $0.1825. As well, it will sell its remaining interest in some British Columbia hydroelectric facilities for $1.39 billion while planning to sell up to a further $2 billion in assets. It expects the dividend cut to save $1.3 billion by 2023.

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