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AFTER THE BELL: TSX rises despite downbeat GDP stats, U.S./China trade optimism boosts optimism on Wall Street

The nation’s GDP growth has sputtered to a halt, and while the news sent the loonie for a spin, it didn’t stop the TSX from rising into the green.

Canada’s stock exchange was up by 69 points despite Stats Canada reporting today that GDP growth slowed to 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, marking its slowest pace in four years.

In comparison, real GDP in the United States grew 2.9 percent in 2018.

A drop in household spending and a stall in housing growth were big factors in the economic slowdown.

According to StatsCan, housing investment fell 3.9 percent as the market continued to soften, with the largest decrease in new construction (minus-5.5 percent), followed by renovations (minus-2.7 percent) and ownership transfer costs (minus-2.6 percent).

But the downbeat economic news didn’t dampen sentiment on Bay Street, with gains in the prominent energy and financials sectors holding the index up.

There were broad-based gains among Canadian energy stocks, even with oil prices falling by $1.47 to $55.75 US a barrel. Oil dipped today, as investors weighed OPEC production dropping to a four-year low, with a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing activity, which raised questions about demand.

In New York, the Dow rose by 110 points while the Nasdaq climbed 62 points higher to start the month.

Sparking U.S. markets was renewed optimism in U.S./China trade talks, with Bloomberg reporting that a push towards a resolution could be coming within the next couple of weeks.

While the Nasdaq moved up, it was pressured by a 7.8 percent drop in Tesla shares after the electric carmaker’s CEO Elon Musk said he was likely looking at a loss in first quarter profits.

On the other hand, Nike shares jumped 1.9 percent, while Apple was up by just over a percent.

The Canadian dollar took a beating, falling 73/100ths of a cent to $0.7520 US while gold tumbled against a strengthening greenback, losing $21.80 to $1,294 an ounce.

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