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Rising U.S. Rate Cut Hopes Lift Canadian Shares

Canadian stocks closed higher as a report of a sharp drop in U.S. consumer confidence bolstered hopes for lower U.S. interest rates. The Federal Reserve Bank is widely expected to cut rates by 50 basis points Wednesday to help extend U.S. economic growth. The TSE 300 rose 46.18 to 9348.40. The S&P/TSE 60 rose 2.85 to 556.77. Breadth was 763-499 positive. All major market sectors advanced except for oil and gas, and utilities. Government of Canada bonds settled higher. The March Canadian dollar settled lower at 66.52 cents vs. US$. The March crude oil price settled flat at $29.06. The February gold price settled $2.70 higher at $265.50.

European markets finished mixed. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index ended 17.50 higher, or 0.28%, at 6,334.50, amid reports that December consumer credit rose 1.1 billion pounds. In Germany, the DAX index closed down 11.66, or 0.17%, to 6,739.30, in anticipation of the Fed's rate cut decision. Meanwhile, France's CAC 40 ended up 29.25, or 0.50%, at 5,917.15, amid a report that business confidence fell in January.

Asian markets finished down. Japan's Nikkei index ended down 18.63, or 0.13%, at 13,826.65. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index finished with a loss of 206.75, or 0.58%, at 15,893.07.

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