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Energy stocks helped push Canada’s main stock index to close up Thursday for a ninth straight day of gains, while U.S. stocks retreated.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 35.49 points, or 0.22 per cent, as energy stocks rose with the price of oil.

Canadian Natural Resources rose 2.4 per cent and was t he biggest contributor to the TSX gain with 8.9 net index points. , Suncor gained 1.2 per cent and Enbridge was up 0.9 per cent. The TSX’s energy group rose 4.38 points, or 2.12 per cent.

Oil prices climbed above US$80 a barrel on Thursday for the first time since November 2014, before retreating on a stronger dollar and climbing U.S. output to end unchanged.

Earlier, oil hit new multi-year highs on concerns that Iranian exports could fall because of renewed U.S. sanctions, reducing supply in an already tightening market.

Brent crude futures reached an intraday high of US$80.50 a barrel, but later gave up most gains to settle up 2 cents at US$79.30 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures settled unchanged at US$71.49, after earlier also hitting their highest since November, 2014 at US$72.30 a barrel.

The Canadian dollar averaged 78.12, up 0.05 of a U.S. cent.

The financials sector slipped 0.16 points, or 0.05 per cent. Leading the index were ATS Automation Tooling Systems Inc., up 11.1 per cent, Spartan Energy Corp., up 6.6 per cent, and Vermilion Energy Inc., higher by 6 per cent.

Lagging shares were Aphria Inc, down 6.8 per cent, Aurora Cannabis Inc., down 3.5 per cent, and Kinaxis Inc., lower by 2.8 per cent.

The most heavily traded shares by volume were Aurora Cannabis Inc, Cenovus Energy Inc and Baytex Energy Corp.

So far, the TSX is off 0.4 per cent for the year.

On Wall Street, stocks ended lower after a choppy trading session as investors grappled with escalating trade tensions and rising oil prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 54.95 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 24,713.98, the S&P 500 lost 2.34 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 2,720.12 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 15.82 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 7,382.47.

The market moved lower ahead of a new round of trade talks between the U.S. and China. The countries have threatened tariffs on each other.

Energy stocks bucked the downward trend. Valero Energy climbed 4.1 per cent. Micron Technology fell 3.2 per cent Thursday and Bank of America lost 1 per cent.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.11 per cent.

Comments by U.S. President Donald Trump that China “has become very spoiled on trade” added fuel to investor jitters as a second round of talks was launched Thursday in efforts to avoid a tariff war between the world’s two largest economies.

Unrest in the Middle East suggested a reduction of oil supply and sent crude prices to their highest level in three-and-a-half years.

Economic reports showed U.S. unemployment rolls falling to their lowest level since 1973 and mid-Atlantic manufacturers asking higher prices for their products, suggesting tightening labor market conditions and firming inflation, which support the likelihood of a Federal Reserve rate hike next month.

Reuters, Associated Press

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