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AFTER THE BELL: Markets end 2018 on high note as Trump tweets indicate progress in U.S./China trade talks

Positive vibes from U.S./China trade talks boosted North American stock markets on the final day of 2018.

Both the Dow and the TSX could use some good news as the U.S./China tariff war, sliding price of oil, inflation fears and under-performing stocks have resulted in the worst year for investors since the financial crisis.

U.S. President Donald said on Twitter that the two sides are “big progress” and that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a “long and very good call.”

News of progress in trade talks between the world’s two largest economies factored into Canada’s stock exchange climbing into the green.

The TSX rose 70 points with 10 of 11 sectors trading higher.

Lifts in energy, mining, and bank stocks offset steep drops in Canada’s two most heavily traded cannabis producers, Aphria and Aurora Cannabis.

Aphria was off by 7.8 percent as investors doubted last week’s hostile takeover bid from Green Growth Brands Ltd., while Aurora Cannabis lost 4.7 percent.

The materials sector climbed one percent, led by a 4.5 percent rise in Barrick Gold shares on news of a share-for-share merger with British Randgold Resources effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Barrick intends to change its ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange from “GOLD” beginning on the merged company’s first day of trading on Jan. 2, 2019.

In New York, the Dow ended the year on a positive note, after what has been the worst December for the exchange since 1931.

The Dow moved up 265 points with broad based gains in every sector. Caterpillar, Goldman Sachs, and Boeing all rose one percent or more.

The Nasdaq also gained, up 50 points despite losses in Facebook, Alphabet, and Tesla.

Oil moved up 51 cents to $45.84 US a barrel. But overall in 2018, crude prices felt the squeeze of domestic and global oversupply and fell 21 percent, according to CNBC.

Gold and the Canadian dollar went in different directions. The yellow metal moved up $1.60 to $1,284 an ounce while the loonie weakened slightly, down 3/100ths of a cent to $0.7332 US.

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