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Energy, Materials Shares Lift TSX

The Canadian stock market ended notably higher on Wednesday, led by gains in energy and materials shares.

As expected, the Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.75%. In October, the bank had raised interest rate by 25 basis points.

Wall Street was shut on Wednesday for a national day of mourning after the death of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 119.05 points, or 0.79%, at 15,182.64. The index scaled a low of 15,122.62 and a high of 15,253.77 in the session.

On Tuesday, the index closed down by 211.39 points or 1.38%, at 15,063.59. The index scaled an intraday high of 15,259.34 and a low of 15,047.06.

Energy stocks moved higher ahead of OPEC meet, scheduled to be held on Thursday. Alberta's decision to mandate output cuts too contributed to the rise of oil stocks. The Capped Energy Index surged up 2.6%. Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO, Encana Corporation (ECA.TO), Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO, Imperial Oil (IMO.TO) and ARC Resources (ARX.TO) gained 2 to 4.3%.

The Capped Materials Index gained nearly 1.5%. Nutrien (NTR.TO) jumped 3.2% and Teck Resources (TECK.B.TO) gained 3.8%, while Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO), Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO) and Goldcorp Inc. (G.TO) gained 1 to 2.5%.

Among Industrials stocks, Canadian National Pacific Railway (CNR.TO), Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO), Waste Connections (WCN.TO), Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) and Air Canada (AC.TO) gained 1 to 4%.

In the consumer discretionary space, Restaurant Brands International (QSR.TO), Dollarama Inc. (DOL.TO) and The Stars Group Inc. (TSGI.TO) gained 2 to 4%.

Among bank stocks, Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) ended nearly 1% up, Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) advanced by 0.6%, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) ended modestly higher. National Bank of Canada reported an 8% increase in fourth quarter net profit, at $566 million, compared to year-ago quarter. The bank also announced that its Board has declared an increase in dividend of 3 cents per common share to C$0.65 per common share for the quarter ending January 31, 2019, up 5% from the previous quarter.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) declined marginally, while Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) declined by 1.3%.

Healthcare stocks declined sharply. Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACB.TO) declined 12.8%, Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) declinedby about 10.1% and Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) drifted down by 16.5%. Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) and Cronos Group (CRON.TO) both ended lower by 8.4%.

Hudson's Bay Company (HBC.TO) shares gained nearly 5% despite the company reporting net loss of $124 million for the third quarter, compared to net loss of $116 million in the prior year.

European markets ended mostly lower amid uncertainty about the U.S. and Chinese officials agreeing on a long term plan to end their trade disputes. Uncertainty about Brexit contributed as well to the decline in Europe.

In economic news from Europe, preliminary data from Eurostat showed eurozone rtail sales increased by 0.3% in October over sales in September.

Eurozone's private sector growth was the lowest in more than two years during November. The pace of slowdown, however, was less than what was estimated initially.

Meanwhile, UK services sector growth slowed to its weakest level in nearly two-and-a-half years in November, amid weaker growth in both business activity and new work as Brexit concerns intensified, defying expectations for a modest improvement.

The CIPS UK Services purchasing managers' index, or PMI, fell to 50.4 from 52.2 in October, marking the lowest level since July 2016, survey results from IHS Markit showed on Wednesday.

In commodities, crude oil futures for January ended down $0.36, or 0.7%, at $52.89 a barrel, after rising to 54.42 a barrel earlier in the session.

Gold futures for February ended down $4.00, or 0.3%, at $1,242.60 an ounce.

Silver futures for March settled at $14.582 an ounce, down from Tuesday's close of $14.640 an ounce. Copper futures for March settled at $2.774 per pound, up from $2.759 per pound on Tuesday.

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