Stocks in Canada's largest market gave a valiant effort, but failed to crawl out of negative territory, despite consumer stocks which sprinted ahead.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index remained negative 35.3 points to end Thursday at 15,024.53
The Canadian dollar leaped 0.76 cents to 82.49 cents U.S.
A sharp rise in consumer discretionary stocks was led by Dollarama Inc. It added $12.96, or 10.6% to $134.72 after the company posted stronger-than-expected quarterly profits.
Hudson's Bay Co climbed 82 cents, or 6.7%, to $13.01, extending Wednesday's gains after an activist shareholder expressed the belief that a highly qualified third-party buyer had “serious interest” in acquiring the department store operator's European chain.
Barrick Gold rose one cent to $21.84 while Kinross Gold rallied 23 cents, or 4% to $5.92.
Among health-care issues, Valeant Pharmaceutical rallied 17 cents, or 1.1%, to $16.25, while Concordia International inched up a penny to $1.61.
Telecoms led the handful of subgroups on the downside, as BCE toppled 47 cents to $58.13, while TELUS Corporation plummeted $1.00, or 2.2%, to $43.62.
Among financials, Manulife Financial slid 37 cents, or 1.6%, to $23.55, and Sun Life Financial declined 47 cents, or 1%, to $46.36.
In the energy sector, Enbridge gave back 67 cents, or 1.3%, to $49.23, while Canadian Natural Resources faded 38 cents, or nearly 1%, to $39.64.
Economically speaking, Statistics Canada reported Canadian municipalities issued $7.9 billion worth of building permits in July, down 3.5% from June and the first decrease since March 2017.
Also, Western University's IVEY School of Business declared its Purchasing Managers Index faded to 56.3 in August from 60 in July, but ahead of a 52.3 reading in August 2016.
The monthly index canvasses purchasing managers of companies as to their buying habits over the previous month, and any reading over 50 constitutes expansion, while under 50 indicates contraction.
The TSX Venture Exchange inched up 0.06 points to finish Thursday to 774.05
Seven of the 12 TSX subgroups were up on the day, led by consumer discretionary stocks, ahead 1.6%, while gold advanced 1.4%, and health-care improved 0.9%.
The five laggards were hampered by telecoms, sinking 1%, financials, off 0.8%, and energy, down 0.6%.
U.S. stocks slipped on Thursday after banking stocks took a hit from declining rates. Disney dragged down Dow Jones industrial average after a profit warning.
The Dow was negative 22.86 points – off its lows of the day -- to 21,784.78,
The S&P 500 lost 0.44 points to 2,465.10, with financials and telecommunications leading the decline in the benchmark.
The NASDAQ moved higher 4.55 points to 6,397.87, with Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook all trading higher.
GE shares fell more than 3% after JPMorgan reaffirmed its underweight rating, saying earnings and business trends continue to deteriorate.
Its shares have performed poorly this year, declining 21% through Wednesday versus the S&P 500's 10% return.
Disney led media stocks lower, falling over 4% after CEO Bob Iger said the company will report earnings-per-share this year "roughly in line" with what the media company generated in fiscal year 2016. Shares of Comcast, Viacom, and CBS were all down over 3%.
Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs were all down more than 1 percent, dragging down the major indexes.
Financials are losing their summer gains as interest rates decline. Goldman, which reached its highest level since March on Aug. 7, has since fallen off 7.7%
Insurance stocks also sank as investors grew more concerned over exposure to Hurricane Irma. Shares of XL Group fell over 5% Thursday, while Chubb fell another 2.5% to add to its 10% monthly decline following Hurricane Harvey.
Stocks rose slightly on Wednesday after President Donald Trump signaled his approval for a Democratic plan to package hurricane relief money for Hurricane Harvey to a three-month extension of both government funding and the debt ceiling.
On the data front, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday that non-farm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, rose at a 1.5% annualized rate. Productivity was previously reported to have increased at a 0.9% pace in the April-June period. It grew at a 0.1% rate in the first quarter.
Prices for the benchmark 10-year Treasury note were up, lowering yields to 2.05% from Wednesday's 2.07%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil prices let go of four cents to $49.12.
Gold prices hiked $13.80 to $1,352.80 U.S. an ounce.