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TSX Ends Marginally Up

The Canadian stock market ended marginally up on Friday, after staying in negative territory for much of the session till an hour past noon.

The mood was cautious amid an escalation in tensions between the U.S. and China over issues related to the coronavirus spread and China's decision to write a new national security law into Hong Kong's charter.

Weak Canadian retail sales data for the month of March weighed as well on the market and investors largely refrained from making significant moves.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 28.79 points, or 0.19%, at 14,913.64, nearly 80 points off the day's low of 14,834.82.

Strong gains in information technology and a few healthcare shares pushed the market up in late afternoon trades. Materials, industrial and consumer staples stocks closed mixed, while financial and energy stocks closed weak.

In the information technology space, Kinaxis Inc. (KXS.TO) gained 5.3%, Evertz Technologies (ET.TO) surged up 4.5%, Enghouse Systems (ENGH.TO) and Shopify Inc. (SHOP.TO) moved up 3.4% and 3.2%, respectively, while Descartes Systems (DSG.TO) ended nearly 3% up. Constellation Software (CSU.TO), CGI Group (GIB.A.TO), Open Text (OTEX.TO) and Quarterhill (QTRH.TO) also rose sharply.

In the healthcare section, Hexo Corp (HEXO.TO) soared more than 20%. Cronos Group (CRON.TO) surged up 8.5%, while Canopy Growth Corp (WEED.TO) gained 6.75%.

Energy stocks PrairieSky Royalty (PSK.TO), MEG Energy (MEG.TO), Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO), Suncor Energy (SU.TO) and Vermilion Energy (VET.TO) declined 2 to 5%.

In the financial section, CDN Western Bank (CWB.TO), Laurentian Bank (LB.TO), Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO), Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO), National Bank of Canada (NA.TO), Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TOP) lost 1 to 3%.

According to the data released Friday morning, retail sales in Canada plunged 10% over a month earlier in March 2020, after rising an upwardly revised 0.4% in February. It was the largest drop in retail trade on record.

Retail Sales were down 8.4% in March 2020, compared to sales in the same month last year.

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