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Dow climbs, weed stocks go haywire

US markets were mixed at the close Wednesday in the wake of trade uncertainty between the U.S. and some of its major foreign counterparts. Meanwhile, cannabis stocks ballooned, posting gains at rates echoing the cryptocurrencies craze of last year. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) closed up 0.6%, to 26,405.76, lifted largely by bank shares. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was up 0.1%, while the NASDAQ Composite (^IXIC) closed down 0.1% to 7,950.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland spoke Wednesday in Washington with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in talks to try and reach a U.S.-Canada deal for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada’s dairy industry has been at the center of the debate, with the Trump administration signaling a refusal to reach an agreement unless the country eases up on its high dairy tariffs.

A preliminary deal between the U.S. and Mexico last month left Canada out of the bloc, and Steve Scalise, a key House Republican lawmaker, indicated Tuesday he would be willing to move ahead on a vote without waiting for a U.S.-Canada agreement.

Investors are continuing to digest the Trump administration’s announcement that it will impose a 10% tariff on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports starting Sept. 24, a rate that could rise to 25% in January. This follows tariffs of 25% on $50 billion of Chinese imports already imposed earlier this year.

Even with the latest round of tariffs, some analysts think the trade war – which has seen tariff upticks since the summer – has already made its mark on the global financial markets.

“Global equity market performance this year shows significant trade war impact already,” Citi analysts wrote in a note Wednesday. “By one measure, non-U.S. shares, particularly emerging markets, have diverged from fundamentals by the most since 1994. Such periods are typically followed by recovery.”

The tactics may be a U.S. “pressure campaign” to strike a deal with Beijing rather than maintain the heightened tariffs and reduced economic ties, the analysts wrote in the note.

STOCKS: Weed stocks surge

Medical cannabis company Tilray (TLRY) reached an all-time high during intraday trading Wednesday, with prices briefly touching $300 per share before trading was halted several times due to volatility. Tilray was up 38% at $214.06 per share at market close. The company was priced at $17 per share during its July IPO.

Shares of Tilray, now the most valuable pot company, surged earlier in the week following comments of growth prospects from CEO Brendan Kennedy in an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer Tuesday. Tilray also gained Tuesday after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration approved medical cannabis imports for use in medical testing.

The company leads a slew of gains from cannabis-related stocks: New Age Beverages (NBEV), which plans to debut CBD-infused drinks, closed up 55% at $4.4, while Cronos Group (CRON) was up 9.8% to $12.7 per share.

Tilray shareholders went on a wild ride.

NEWS: China won’t devalue currency, Amazon reportedly plans to add thousands of cashierless stores

Even with U.S.-China trade tensions ratcheting up, Beijing won’t be driving down its currency to keep a competitive edge on trade.

“One-way devaluation will do more harm than good to China’s economy,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told audiences at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin Wednesday. “China will by no means stimulate exports by devaluing the yuan.”

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department reported Tuesday that China cut holdings of U.S. Treasuries in July to $1.17 trillion in July, its lowest level since the start of the year. China, the foreign country holding the largest amount of U.S. Treasury bonds, had held $1.18 trillion in June.

Amazon is reportedly planning to roll out as many as 3,000 cashierless stores by 2021, according to reports from Bloomberg citing people familiar. The e-commerce giant’s first cashierless store opened near its Seattle headquarters in 2016. Shares of Amazon were little changed at market close Wednesday at $1926.42 per share.

ECONOMY: Housing starts rise as building permits fall short of estimates

New-home building in the U.S. accelerated to a three-month high to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.28 million for the month of August, a more than 9% increase over the revised July estimate of 1.17 million, according to data released by the Commerce Department Wednesday. The rate beat the average estimate of 1.24 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

August building permits, which predict future construction, fell short of estimates to 1.23 million, a 5.7% decrease from the revised July rate of 1.3 million.

But the core trends may be weaker than headlines suggest, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note. New building for multifamily homes, up 29.3% from the month prior, drove the increase in starts, while single-family new-home building rose only 1.9%. Permit drops were split between single and multifamily units.

“It now suggests that single-family starts are on course to drop to a 12-month low in September, even without the hit from Hurricane Florence,” Shepherdson wrote. “In short, these data are consistent with our view that the trend in housing market activity has peaked, despite the surge in August headline starts.”

The Commerce Department also reported Wednesday that U.S. corporations repatriated $169.5 billion in the second quarter, from $34.9 billion in the previous year. Lowered tax rates on repatriated profits the Trump administration implemented in December have offered increased incentive for companies to bring money back to the U.S.

Emily McCormick is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.