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Canadian Stocks Finish Volatile Session Mostly Higher

Canadian stocks saw considerable volatility over the course of the trading session on Friday before closing mostly higher.

After bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line, the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 64.60 points or 0.3 percent at 21,357.56.

Energy stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, benefiting from a sharp increase by the price of crude oil.

With crude for February delivery surging $1.70 or 2 percent to $83.82 a barrel, the S&P/TSX Capped Energy Index spiked by 2.9 percent.

On the other hand, interest-rate sensitive real estate stocks showed a notable move to the downside, dragging the S&P/TSX Capped Real Estate Index down by 1.2 percent.

The overall volatility on the day came following the release of a slew of U.S. economic data, including a Commerce Department report unexpectedly showing a steep drop in U.S. retail sales in the month of December.

The Commerce Department said retail sales tumbled by 1.9 percent in December after edging up by a revised 0.2 percent in November.

The sharp pullback surprised economists, who had expected retail sales to come in unchanged compared to the 0.3 percent growth originally reported for the previous month.

Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said the unexpected slump in retail sales appears to mainly reflect the ongoing impact of higher prices and supply shortages.

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