Thank goodness for the pot stocks.

It was a mediocre quarter for the Canadian equity market, with big gains for shares of cannabis-related companies offsetting declines in mining and energy.

Overall the S&P/TSX Composite Index declined by 1.26 per cent from the beginning of July through the end of September. That ranked 54th out of the 93 main stock indices tracked by Bloomberg, based on data Thursday. Surprisingly, the world’s top performing index could be found in Venezuela, a nation that has been dogged by a serious economic, social and political crises. The 268 per cent return for that country’s market is being driven by local businesses and individuals piling into equities in a desperate bid to protect their savings from a plunging currency and quadruple-digit inflation. The U.S. blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average was the world’s 6th strongest index, with a return of 9.01 per cent.

Top performing sectors:

Health care: +31.17 per cent

Industrials: +5.25 per cent

Financials: +3.00 per cent

The health care subindex was the top performing Canadian sector in the third quarter, with a whopping return of 31.17 per cent. That was driven by big jumps in marijuana-related stocks Canopy Growth, Aphria and Aurora Cannabis. Bausch Health (formerly named Valeant Pharmaceuticals) and Extendicare also had strong quarters. Looking at the other sectors, industrials and financials also made positive contributions.


Weakest sectors:

Materials: -13.23 per cent

Consumer Discretionary: -8.43 per cent

Energy:  -6.60 per cent

The biggest drag on the Canadian market in the third quarter was the resource-heavy materials group, which includes companies involved in mining, forestry, chemicals, construction and packaging. The materials index lost 13.23 per cent of its value in the quarter. The main culprit was precious metals, with eight gold miners and two silver firms making up the 10 worst performing stocks in the group.


Top performing stocks:

Canopy Growth: + 63.33 per cent

Enercare: + 60.96 per cent

Aphria: + 51.64 per cent

Parkland Fuel: +34.40 per cent

Air Canada: + 29.88 per cent

Looking at the overall index, three of the top six performers in the quarter in Toronto were the aforementioned cannabis plays Canopy, Aurora and Aphria. Enercare shares jumped on Aug. 1 after Brookfield Infrastructure partners agreed to buy the provider of air conditioners, water heaters and furnaces for $4.3 billion. The climb was more steady through the quarter for Parkland Fuel as the gas station operator reported stronger-than-expected financial results. Air Canada also reported solid earnings as well as buying the Aeroplan credit card rewards program back from Aimia.


Worst performing stocks:

New Gold: -62.77 per cent

Tahoe Resources: - 44.82 per cent

Guyana Goldfields: - 41.96 per cent

Iamgold Corp: - 37.99 per cent 

Maxar Technologies: -35.55 per cent

It was a rough quarter for precious metals. Three gold companies and one silver miner show up among the weakest performing stocks on the Toronto bourse. The exception was Maxar Technologies, formerly known as MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates, which topped average analyst earnings, revenue and forecasts. However, investors reacted negatively to elements of the satellite service provider’s outlook for the rest of the year, including its expected profit margins.