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Canadian Market Firmly Up In Positive Territory; Financial, Energy Stocks Rally

After a mild early setback, the Canadian stock market moved higher Wednesday morning, riding on strong gains in energy, healthcare and financial sectors thanks to some fairly encouraging earnings announcements.

Technology stocks are weak, and several stocks from utilities and consumer staples sections are also down in negative territory, as concerns about valuations and likely inflation weighing on sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 107.81 points or 0.6% at 18,437.90 about a quarter past noon. The index, which opened marginally up, drifted down to a low of 18,241.87 before rebounding into positive territory.

The Capped Energy Index is surging up 3.3%. Vermilion Energy (VET.TO) is soaring over 10%, MEG Energy (MEG.TO) is rising 8% and Whitecap Resources (WCP.TO) is gaining more than 6%. Enerplus Corp (ERF.TO), Seven Generations Energy (VII.TO), Arc Resources (ARX.TO), Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO), Suncor Energy (SU.TO), Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) and PrairieSky Royalty (PSK.TO) are up 3 to 4%.

Crescent Point Energy (CPG.TO) is up nearly 4% thank to better than expected quarterly results. In the fourth quarter,the company's adjusted funds flow totaled $220.2 million , or $0.41 per diluted share.

In the banking space, National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) is up 4.5%. The bank said its net income excluding one-off items rose to C$761 million, or C$2.15 a share, in the three months through January, compared with C$620 billion, or C$1.70 a share, a year earlier.

Laurentian Bank (LB.TO) is rising 3.4%. Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO), Manulife Financial (MFC.TO) and Bank of Montreal (BMO.TO) are higher by about 3%, while Canadian Western Bank (CWB.TO), Sun Life Financial (SLF.TO) and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) are gaining 1.5%.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) is down marginally. The bank reported first quarter earnings per share of C$2.66 compared to C$2.40, a year ago. On average, 11 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report profit per share of C$2.26, for the quarter.

Among the stocks in the Healthcare Index, Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) is rising nearly 10%, Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) is gaining 4.5% and Trillium Therapeutics (TRIL.TO) is up 3.4%, while Canopy Growth Corp (WEED.TO), Sienna Senior Living (SIA.TO) and Cronos Group (CRON.TO) are up 1.8 to 2.3%.

Bausch Health Companies Inc. (BHC.TO) reported that its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to $153 million from $1.516 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019. GAAP loss per share was $0.43, compared to a loss of $4.30 in the prior year. Bausch's adjusted net income for the fourth quarter was $478 million, compared to $404 million in the previous year. The stock is down marginally.

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