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At midday: Miners, financials lead broad rise in TSX

Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Aug. 16.

Richard Drew/AP

Canada's main stock index rose on Wednesday as the heavily weighted bank stocks led broad gains and firmer commodity prices bumped resource issues higher.

The gains mirrored global markets which rose on economic data that showed forecast-beating growth, and U.S. stocks which rose ahead of the release of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting minutes.

In Canada, talks with the United States and Mexico on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement commenced.

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Manulife Financial Corp was among the most influential gainers, rising 1.2 per cent to $25.43. Canada's top banks saw moderate gains under 1 per cent, but were the index's biggest drivers on the positive side. Financial stocks, which account for about a third of the index's weight, gained 0.4 per cent.

At 11:18 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index rose 58.13 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 15,155.97.

All of the index's key sectors were in positive territory.

Base-metal miner Teck Resources Ltd was up 2.9 per cent to $28.15 while First Quantum Minerals Ltd rose 6.6 per cent to $13.04. HudBay Minerals Inc jumped 9.5 per cent to $10.05.

The overall materials group, which includes base metals mining companies, added 1.4 per cent as the price of zinc rose to its highest in almost a decade on construction spending in China, and copper and nickel prices also traded higher.

Energy stocks climbed 0.6 per cent, with Crescent Point Energy Corp up 1.9 per cent to $8.81. Oil prices eked out modest gains as data showed a bigger-than-expected draw in U.S. crude inventories.

The S&P and the Dow rose higher in late morning trading on Wednesday on gains from consumer discretionary stocks, with investors awaiting the minutes on the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

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Home Depot's shares rose 1.7 perc ent and provided the biggest boost to the S&P and the Dow, after a slump on Tuesday following the company's earnings.

Target rose as much as 3.9 per cent, leading the gainers on the S&P consumer discretionary index, after the company's quarterly profit and same-store sales that beat estimates.

Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the material index's 0.75-per-cent gain leading the gainers.

Freeport McMoran's 6-per-cent rise gave the biggest boost to the sector.

"The market is breathing a sigh of relief with the nuclear tensions having eased considerably and following a strong quarterly earnings season," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

Investors will look for clues on future interest rake hikes this year from the minutes of central bank's July policy meeting, which will be released at 2 p.m. ET.

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Policymakers unanimously decided to keep interest rates unchanged in the July 25-26 meeting and said they planned to reduce the central bank's massive holdings of bonds "relatively soon".

"If the minutes suggest a deviation, whether them being more hawkish or more dovish, that may cause the market to change direction," Mr. Sarhan said.

A slide in inflation readings in recent months, which remain below the Fed's 2 percent target rate, have made the markets skeptical about a rate hike by December.

However, recent hawkish comments by New York Fed chief William Dudley advocating for another rate hike this year and strong retail sales data on Tuesday have upped the odds.

Chances of a December hike rose to 49.2 per cent, up from 42 per cent at the start of the week, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 70.8 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 22,069.79, the S&P 500 was up 7.74 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 2,472.35.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 24.70 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 6,357.71.

Data showed that U.S. homebuilding unexpectedly fell in July as the construction of single- and multi-family homes declined.

The Commerce Department said housing starts declined 4.8 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million units.

Among stocks, Urban Outfitters rose 19.44 per cent after the apparel retailer reported quarterly profit and sales that beat estimates, leading to multiple price target raises.

Amazon was down 0.39 per cent after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted the retail giant was doing "great damage" to tax paying retailers.

Oil prices were little changed Wednesday after U.S. crude stockpiles plunged their most in nearly a year, paring gains seen early in the session.

U.S. crude inventories dropped for a seventh consecutive week, falling 8.95 million barrels last week to 466.5 million barrels to their lowest since January 2016. Including emergency reserves, crude stocks were at 1.15 billion barrels, the lowest levels since October 2015, the Energy Information Administration said.

The decline confirmed Tuesday's data from the American Petroleum Institute which showed crude inventories dropped 9.2 million barrels in the week to Aug. 11.

That compared with analysts' expectations for a decrease of 3.1 million barrels.

The metric is closely watched by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producers which have curtailed output to boost prices.

"I would describe this as a bullish report and probably the effect would be we're going to keep ourselves pinned here waiting for the next signal," said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy.

Seasonally, U.S. demand usually picks up during the summer. "If we see these draws past Labor Day, it will drive the market, possibly past $50.

Brent crude futures were up 17 cents at $50.97 per barrel, after earlier trading as high as $51.40.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $47.53 a barrel, down 2 cents, after earlier rising to $47.99.

More broadly, analysts said ample supplies were preventing prices from moving much higher.

"This bullish print is being tempered somewhat by unchanged gasoline inventories versus the expectation of a draw," said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

"The peak of summer driving season has now passed, and demand for crude should wane also as refinery runs drop, Gasoline demand will ebb as summer road trips are mostly over and children head back to school.

U.S. gasoline stocks were unchanged, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.1 million-barrel drop.

OPEC and other major producers including Russia have pledged to restrict output by 1.8 barrels per day between January this year and March 2018.

Offsetting much of that effort, however, U.S. oil production has soared by almost 12 per cent since mid-2016 to 9.5 million bpd.

"OPEC and Russia still face an uphill battle in reducing the global supply surplus in the face of growth in output elsewhere and less than compliant behavior in their midst (Iraq, UAE)," French bank BNP Paribas said.

OPEC member Angola released a loading plan showing October exports were planned at a 13-month high.

On the demand side, analysts see a gradual slowdown in fuel consumption growth.

In the United States, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said gasoline demand was already peaking due to improving fuel efficiency and the rise of electric vehicles.

In China, state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) said gasoline demand would likely peak around 2025 and outright oil consumption would top out around 2030.

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