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TSX Snaps 4-day Losing Streak, End Sharply Higher

Canadian shares rose sharply on Thursday, with traders, back after Christmas and Boxing Day holidays, going on a buying spree across the board.

After opening on a high note despite a sell-off on Wall Street, stocks held firm and then rallied sharply as the session progressed, tracking a splendid recovery in the U.S. market.

Despite crude oil's plunge today, energy stocks climbed higher, capturing the mood of traders who appeared keen on catching up with Wall Street's historic rally on Wednesday.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 385.02 points, or 2.79%, at 14,165.21, almost at the day's high. The index touched a low of 13,918.28 in the session.

On Monday, the index ended down 155.25 points, or 1.11%, at 13,780.19, slightly above the session's low of 13,776.88, and extending its loss of 1.46% on Friday.

The Capped Energy Index, the biggest gainer in today's session, climbed up 5.57%. The Capped Information Technology index added 5.29% and the Capped Consumer Discretionary Index moved up 3.35%. The Capped Industrials Index surged up 3.25%.

With stocks from consumer staples, financial, healthcare, materials, utilities and real estate sectors too moving higher, the indices tracking the performances of these stocks, ended stronger by 1 to 2.5%.

BayTex Energy Corp. (BTE.TO), Suncor Energy Inc. (SU.TO), Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO), Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) gained 5 to 7.5%, on strong volumes.

BlackBerry (BB.TO) moved up 4.7%. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Transcanada Corporation (TRP.TO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), Bombardier (BBD.B.TO), Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC.TO), Enbridge Inc. (ENB.TO) and B2Gold Corp. (BTO.TO) also attracted good volumes and ended higher by 1.5 to 3%.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) gained more than 2.5% and National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) advanced by 1.2%.

Encana Corporation (ECA.TO) soared 14.7% and Ballard Power Systems Inc. (BLDP.TO) jumped 14%. Hydrogenics Corporation (HYG.TO) and Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (AEZS.TO) both ended stronger by nearly 12%. Shopify Inc. (SHOP.TO) added 11.6%. Air Canada (AC.TO) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) also ended sharply higher.

The U.S. market ended with solid gains, bouncing back strongly after a sharp setback. The Dow, which had plunged more than 600 points at one stage, rallied to end up 260.37 points or 1.1%. The Nasdaq gained 0.4% and the S&P 500 added about 0.9%.

In addition to worries about growth, government shutdown and trade tensions, a report from the Conference Board that showed a significant deterioration in U.S. consumer confidence in the month of December weighed down the U.S. market early on in the session.

According to a report released by the Labor Department, initial jobless claims slipped to 216,000 in the week ended December 22nd, from previous week's revised level of 217,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 217,000 from the 214,000 originally reported for the previous week.

European markets drifted lower. The DAX of Germany dropped 2.37% and the CAC of France fell 0.60%. The FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 1.50% and the SMI of Switzerland finished lower by 2.63%.

Markets in Asia moved mostly higher, tracking Wall Street's gains on Wednesday. Chinese stocks, however, bucked the trend and ended on a negative note.

In commodities, crude oil futures for February ended down $1.61, or 3.5%. at $44.61 a barrel, after having vaulted 8.6% to $46.22 a barrel in the previous session.

Gold futures for February ended up $8.10, or 0.6%, at $1,281.10 an ounce, extending gains to a third successive session.

Silver futures for March closed at $15.310 an ounce, gaining $0.187 for the session, while Copper futures for March declined by $0.032 from previous close, to settle at $2.668 per pound.

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