People Working Finance Stock Exchange ConceptPeople Working Finance Stock Exchange Concept

Stock markets on both sides of the border eked out minor gains as investors continue to focus on a back-and-forth in Washington, D.C. over tariffs the White House wants to impose on steel and aluminum imports.

The plans have faced opposition from other Republicans and business leaders, who fear they could ignite a trade war and damage the global economy.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 3.91 points to 15,545.19, with mining and materials companies providing the lift.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 9.36 points to 24,884.12. The S&P 500 composite index was up 7.18 points to 2,728.12 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 41.31 points to 7,372.01.

“I do think there is a calming of nerves on the trade risk front and I think that’s helping the market be a little bit calmer today,” said Colum McKinley, vice president and portfolio manager of Canadian equities with CIBC Asset Management Inc. “But I would caution that we fully expect volatility, especially on the trade front, to come back into the forefront of investors’ minds, and that we are still deep in negotiations on NAFTA.”

The TSX fell by 1.8% while U.S. stocks tumbled 3.7% during a three-day losing streak last week after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports.

The president reaffirmed his plans during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, saying the U.S. has long been “mistreated” by trade deals and has been dealing with a massive trade deficit.

He reiterated that if he’s able to make a deal with Canada and Mexico to improve the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, “there will be no reason to do tariffs” on steel and aluminum from the two neighbours.

In currency markets, the Canadian dollar closed at an average trading value of US77.53¢, up by 0.47 of a U.S. cent.

The April crude contract was up by US3¢ to US$62.60 a barrel and the April natural gas contract was up by US5¢ at US$2.75 per mmBTU.

The April gold contract was up by US$15.30 to US$1,335.20 an ounce and the May copper contract was up US3¢ to US$3.16 a pound.