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TSX Extends Winning Streak To Fifth Session

Despite a weak start, the Canadian stock market ended on a firm note on Thursday, led by gains in energy and healthcare shares. Financial, information technology and industrial sections too saw some strong buying.

Reports that trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials concluded on Wednesday without significant breakthroughs, weakness in Asian and European markets and worries about the government shutdown in the U.S. set up a weak opening for the market.

However, expectations that the two largest economies will eventually reach a long-term trade deal before the expiry of the 90-day truce pulled the market out of the red.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 98.76 points, or 0.67%, at 14,903.49, after scaling a low of 14,702.31 and a high of 14,921.06 intraday.

On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 199.58 points, or 1.37%, at 14,804.73, slightly off the day's high of 14,811.13.

On the economic front, a report from Statistics Canada showed Canadian housing starts were unchanged for a fourth consecutive month in November. Building permits issued by Canadian municipalities in November were up 2.6% from a month earlier.

The Capped Energy Index gained 1.08%. Vermilion Energy Inc. (VET.TO) ended stronger by more than 3.5% and PrairieSky Royalty (PSK.TO) climbed up 3.8%, while ARC Resources (ARX.TO), Encana (ECA.TO), Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE.TO) and Tourmaline Oil Corporation (TOU.TO) gained 1.2 to 2.5%.

Among materials shares, Nutrien (NTR.TO) gained 1.6%, while Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) declined by 1.8% and First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) ended 2.5% down.

The Capped Healthcare Index surged up 4.29%. Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) jumped nearly 12% after the company said it is preparing to enter the U.S. hemp market following the passage of the U.S. 2018 Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp production in the U.S.

Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) ended almost 10% up and Cronos Group Inc. (CRON.TO) gained 1.1%. Bausch Health Companies Inc. (BHC.TO) ended 3.3% down and Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) declined by 2.3%. CannTrust Holdings Inc. (TRST.TO) ended marginally up after the company announced that it has applied to list its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), National Bank of Canada (NA.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) gained 0.6 to 1.2%.

Information technology shares CGI Group (GIB.A.TO), Open Text Corporation (OTEX.TO), BlackBerry (BB.TO), Descartes Systems Group (DSG.TO), Kinaxis Inc. (KXS.TO), Celestica Inc. (CLS.TO), Enghouse Systems (ENGH.TO) and Sierra Wireless Inc. (SW.TO) gained 1 to 3%.

Among consumer discretionary shares, Magna International Inc. (MG.TO) gained 2.2%, Restaurant Brands International Inc. (QSR.TO) added 1.4%, Linamar Corporation (LNR.TO) and BRP Inc. (BRP.TO) gained 1 to 2%.

In the industrials space, Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) gained 1.4%, Waste Connections Inc. (WCN.TO) advanced by 1.7%, Thomson Reuters Corporation (TRI.TO) added 1.4% and Toromont Industries (TIH.TO) ended more than 2% up.

Aritzia Inc. (ATZ.TO) announced on Wednesday that its net profit for the third quarter rose more than 16% to $32.6 million, from $28.1 million in the year-ago quarter. The stock declined by about 1.75%.

Ensign Energy Services Inc. (ESI.TO) and Trinidad Drilling Ltd. (TDG.TO) announced today that Trinidad has entered into an amalgamation agreement with Ensign Holdings Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ensign, under which Trinidad will amalgamate with Holdings. The amalgamated entity will be an wholly-owned subsidiary of Ensign. Ensign Energy shares ended nearly 2% up.

Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday after trade negotiations between American and Chinese officials ended in Beijing without significant breakthroughs. However, China said meetings were 'extensive, in-depth and detailed,' without offering specifics.

European markets ended on a mixed note, after showing weakness early on in the session.

In economic news, French industrial production declined in November, defying expectations for a modest increase, preliminary data from the statistical office INSEE showed.

Industrial production decreased a seasonally and working-day adjusted 1.3 percent, reversing a similar size increase in the previous month. Economists had expected production to remain unchanged.

U.S. stocks ended higher for a fifth straight session despite coming off the day's highs.

In U.S. economic news, data released by the Labor Department showed a bigger than expected drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended January 5th. The report said initial jobless claims fell to 216,000, a decrease of 17,000 from the previous week's revised level of 233,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 225,000 from the 231.000 originally reported for the previous week.

In commodities, crude oil futures ended $0.23, or 0.4%, at $52.59 a barrel, extending gains to a ninth successive session.

Gold futures for February ended down $4.60, or 0.4%, at $1,287.40 an ounce.

Silver futures for March ended at $15.643 an ounce, down $0.092 from previous close, while copper futures for March settled at $2.637 per pound, down $0.020 from Wednesday's close.

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