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AFTER THE BELL: TSX inches higher despite sagging energy stocks; U.S. corporate giants struggling

Plummeting oil and natural gas prices and lagging energy stocks resulted in a flat day on Bay Street.

And while the TSX edged 12 points higher on the backs of the health care and gold sectors, Canadian energy companies were impacted by a drop in crude prices, as oil lost $1.60 to $52.09 US a barrel.

The catalysts behind the price drop were two-fold: U.S. energy firms adding rigs for the first time this year, and more signs of China’s economy moving backwards. China is the world’s second largest oil user.

Losses in the the energy and industrials sectors were offset by a rise in pot stocks, which pushed the TSX’s health care sector 4.5 percent higher. Shares in Canadian cannabis producers swung upwards today, led by a 15.9 surge by Cronos Group Inc.

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The TSX managed to inch into the green despite a 27.8 percent plunge in SNC Lavalin Group’s share price, after the construction giant reported lower-than-anticipated Q4 results.

In New York, the Dow was off by 208 points, led lower by Caterpillar, which, according to CNN, reported its biggest earnings miss in a decade.

Investors are looking at trade-sensitive Caterpillar’s 9.1 percent drop as an indicator of how China/U.S. trade tensions are pumping the brakes on an already slowing global economy.

Nvidia led the losses on the Nasdaq by tumbling 13.8 percent. The chipmaker was on pace for its worst day since Nov. 16 after it cut its fourth quarter estimates due to “deteriorating macroeconomic conditions, particularly in China.”

Overall, the Nasdaq lost 79 points with Apple, Micron, Facebook, and Netflix joining Nvidia in negative territory.

The loonie lost some of its traction from last week, falling 21/100ths of a cent to $0.7543 US while gold continues to gain, jumping $4.60 to $1,302 an ounce.

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