04/13/2017 13:02 EDT | Updated 04/13/2017 20:00 EDT

TSX, New York markets fall ahead of Easter weekend; gold continues to shine

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market finished off a shortened trading week in the red Thursday, with losses coming in from energy, materials and bank stocks.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell for a third straight day, losing 112.92 points to hit 15,535.48. The Canadian dollar declined 0.31 of a cent to 75.03 cents US.

"The market is definitely in a profit-taking mood today. That's the overall sense here," said Cynthia Caskey, a vice-president and portfolio manager at TD Wealth.

Ottawa unveiled a suite of bills Thursday as part of its long-awaited effort to legalize recreational marijuana.

The bills, which will make Canada the first member of the G7 to decriminalize recreational use of the drug, is set to come into effect by July 2018.

Among the proposals, adults over the age of 18 will be permitted to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public and grow up to four plants for personal use at home.

Despite the announcement, most stocks of marijuana producers were lower. Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) fell 38 cents or 3.69 per cent to $9.93, while Aphria shed (TSX:APH) 65 cents or 8.27 per cent to $7.21 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 138.61 points to 20,453.25, the S&P 500 index fell 15.98 points to 2,328.95 and the Nasdaq composite index pulled back 31.01 points to 5,805.15.

The softness came despite a slew of better-than-expected results from several U.S. banks including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

Caskey said investors are nervous about global uncertainties including the situation between North Korea and the U.S. and the outcome of the upcoming French election. A recent media interview with Trump about his economic policies also made markets anxious.

Trump told the Wall Street Journal this week that his healthcare bill, which recently failed to pass U.S. Congress, is still his top priority over his plans for tax reform.

"It looks like stimulus from tax cuts is less likely in the near term," she said. "A lot of investors had been pricing in what that could mean in terms of earnings and cash flow to U.S. corporations if in fact taxes start to roll back. That's going to take longer and be more stretched out here. It's going to be more of a gradual process."

Both Toronto and New York stock markets will be closed for Good Friday and reopen on Monday.

Commodities were all positive, with the May crude contract up seven cents at US$53.18 per barrel despite a report by the International Energy Agency saying that demand growth for oil will slow for a second consecutive year this year.

The June gold contract was up for a third day in a row, climbing $10.40 to US$1,288.50 an ounce. The May copper contract gained three cents to US$2.57 a pound and the May natural gas contract advanced four cents to US$3.23 per mmBTU.

— With files from The Associated Press.

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