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Bay Street Likely To Open On Slightly Positive Note

Canadian shares are likely to open on a slightly positive note on Friday amid mild optimism about progress in U.S.-China trade talks and a recovery in gold prices.

According to reports, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had telephonic conversations with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Meanwhile, a report from RBC Economics that says the Canadian economy is headed for a slower growth in 2019 may limit market's upside. RCB Economics has downgraded its 2019 Canadian forecast to 1.5% from 1.7%, citing sluggish energy sector and softer consumer spending due to higher interest rates.

On the economic front, data on Manufacturing Shipments in the month of January is due at 8:30 AM ET.

In U.S. economic news, industrial production data for the month of February is due at 9:15 AM ET.

On Thursday, The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended down 62.42 points, or 0.39%, at 16,087.55, slightly off the day's low of 16,083.11. The index touched a high of 16,144.46 in early trades.

In company news, AutoCanada Inc. (ACQ.TO) reported fourth quarter revenue of $782.8 million, up 6.8% compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. Same store revenue declined by 3% in the fourth quarter, compared with the year-ago quarter.

Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HDI.TO) said its profit increased 7.4% to $32.2 million in 2018. Diluted profit per share grew to $1.49, or an increase of 7.2%. Adjusted diluted profit per share increased 4.5% to $1.61 per share.

Asian markets ended higher on Friday after U.K. lawmakers backed delaying the Brexit process and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged support for the slowing economy during his annual news conference at the end of the National People's Congress.

Li said the country could use reserve requirements and interest rates to prevent a sharper deceleration in the world's second-largest economy.

European stocks edged higher, as Brexit-related worries eased and investors remained hopeful for a U.S.-China trade deal, ignoring comments from U.S. President Donald Trump that he is in "no rush" to complete a trade deal with China.

In commodities, crude oil futures for April were declining $0.27, or 0.46%, at $58.34, after advancing to a high of $58.95 earlier.

Gold futures for April were gaining $8.00, or 0.62%, at $1,303.10 an ounce.

Silver futures for May were up $0.184, or 1.21%, at $15.355 an ounce, while Copper futures for May were rising $0.0145, or 0.5%, at $2.9060 per pound.

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