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Canadian Shares Extending Recent Gains On Upbeat Economic Data

Canadian stocks are gaining in strength Thursday morning, extending gains from recent sessions, with investors reacting positively to economic data out of Canada and the U.S. and on optimism the U.S. and China will work out a trade agreement sometime soon.

The latest batch of upbeat economic data has offset trade concerns after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency with respect to the threats against information and communications technology and services.

The market is also benefiting from higher crude oil prices.

Energy, industrial and information technology stocks are among the prominent gainers. Consumer staples and consumer discretionary shares are also mostly higher.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index is up 116.65 points, or 0.71%, at 16,434.79.

On Wednesday, the index ended up 33.61 points, or 0.21%, at 16,318.14.

Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO), Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Encana Corporation (ECA.TO), Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO), Imperial Oil (IMO.TO), Tourmaline Oil Corp. (TOU.TO), Vermilion Energy (VET.TO), Husky Energy (HSE.TO), PrairieSky Royalty (PSK.TO) and Parex Resources (PXT.TO) are gaining 1 to 2.5%.

Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) is gaining 3.4%, Baytex Energy (BTE.TO) is up nearly 3%, Whitecap Resources (WCP.TO) is up 2.7%, Enbridge Inc. (ENB.TO) is advancing 1.4% and MEG Energy (MEG.TO) is up 1.2%.

In the information technology space, Shopify Inc. (SHOP.TO) is up 3%, extending recent gains. Constellation Software (CSU.TO) and Enghouse Systems (ENGH.TO) are up 1.5% and 2%, respectively.

Maxar Technologies (MAXR.TO) is up 4% after the company announced that it has been selected by NASA to study future systems that could revolutionize NASA's space-based communications architecture through innovative technologies and commercial partnerships.

Among the stocks from the Industrial index, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP.TO) is rising 1.7%, Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) is gaining 1.5%, Waste Connections (WCN.TO) is up 1.2%, Air Canada (AC.TO) is advancing 2.8%, Toromont Industries (TIH.TO) is up nearly 2%, Ritchie Bros. (RBA.TO) is gaining 1.4%, WSP Global (WSP.TO) is rising 1.3% and SNC Lavalin Group (SNC.TO) is up 3.2%, while Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) is up more than 4%.

In the materials space, First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) is rising 3%. Barrick Gold Corporation (ABX.TO) is declining 2.5%.

Cannabis shares Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) and Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) are up 1.6% and 0.85%, respectively, on fairly strong volumes.

Shares of agricultural greenhouse facilities operator Village Farms International Inc. (VFF.TO) are up nearly 8.5%, with investors cheering the passage of Hemp Bill by Texas Senate. The passage of the bill into law, when it happens, will establish a Texas Hemp Program, providing a regulatory and licensing framework for the cultivation and processing of hemp, as well as for products made from hemp, including cannabidiol (CBD).

On the economic front, data released by Statistics Canada this morning showed manufacturing sales increased 2.1% to $58.0 billion in March, boosted by the transportation equipment, petroleum and coal product, and primary metal industries.

Economists had expected a 1.1% increase for the month, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

The report said overall manufacturing sales rose 1.6% in volume terms.

U.S. stocks are up with strong gains this morning, buoyed by a batch of upbeat economic data and Wallmart's earnings.

Data from the Labor Department said initial jobless claims slid to 212,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 228,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 220,000.

A report from the Commerce Department showed housing starts surged up by 5.7% in April and building permits rose by 0.6%.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve also released a report a significant acceleration in the pace of growth in regional manufacturing activity in May.

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