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TSX Ends Modestly Higher As Energy, Bank Stocks Rise

After a firm start and a subsequent fall into negative territory, the Canadian stock market recovered and ended higher, riding on gains in energy shares.

Reports showing narrowing U.S. and Canadian trade deficits and notable Chinese GDP growth aided sentiment.

Despite lower crude oil prices, energy stocks forced their way up, after the United Conservative Party won the election in Alberta, defeating the left-leaning democratic party.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 42.04 points, or 0.25%, at 16,544.24. The index touched a low of 16,495.67 and a high of 16,553.38 in the session.

The Capped Energy Index gained 1.38%. Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO) gained more than 3%.

Vermilion Energy and Baytex Energy (BTE.TO) advanced by 2% and 1.8%, respectively.

Among the stocks in the materials index, Goldcorp (G.TO), Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO) and Kinross Gold Corporation (K.TO) ended with sharp to moderate losses. Lundin Mining Corporation (LUN.TO) jumped more than 6%.

In the financial space, Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO), Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) gained 0.3 to 0.75%. National Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) edged up marginally, while Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) climbed up 1.3%.

Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC.TO) gained 0.8% and Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH.TO) ended stronger by 1.8%.

Cannabis shares Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) and Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED.TO) gained 1.1% and 2.8%, respectively. Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) soared 12%.

Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) declined 9.6% after the company said it plans to issue up to $300 million of convertible debt through private placement, and use the proceeds to finance international expansion, acquisitions and general corporate purposes.

On the economic front, data from Statistics Canada showed Canada's trade deficit narrowed to C$2.9 billion from a revised C$3.1 billion in January. Economists were looking for a shortfall of C$3.38 billion.

Exports fell 1.3%, while imports were down by 1.6%.

Another data showed Canada's consumer price inflation remained steady in March, coming in at a seasonally adjusted 0.3%, same as in February. Economists had forecast a 0.7% rise.

Core inflation, excluding food and energy, accelerated to 0.4% from 0.2% in the previous month.

Year-on-year, the consumer price index rose 1.9% on an unadjusted basis in March, up from a 1.5% increase in February.

U.S. stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday and the major averages ended the session slightly lower. The Dow edged down less than a tenth of a percent, the Nasdaq ended lower by 0.1% and the S&P 500 dipped 0.2%.

Traders were reacting to a mixed batch of earnings news and digesting the Beige Book that said U.S. economic activity expanded at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April.

A report from the Commerce Department showed the U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in the month of February amid a jump in the value of exports.

European markets ended mostly higher with investors reacting positively to eurozone trade and inflation data. Asian markets ended mixed.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended down $0.29, or 0.45%, at $63.76 a barrel.

Gold futures for June ended down $0.60, at $1,276.60 an ounce.

Silver futures for May ended up $0.024, at $14.939 an ounce, while Copper futures for May settled at $2.9675 per pound, gaining $0.0370 for the session.

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