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The Bay Street sign is shown in the heart of the financial district as people walk by in Toronto, May 22, 2008.


Canada's main stock index inched higher on Thursday morning led by gains for heavyweight banking stocks as investors reacted to the U.S. Federal Reserve's signal of another interest rate increase this year.

Bank of Nova Scotia increased 1.5 per cent to $79.13, while Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada's biggest bank by assets, rose 0.7 per cent to $69.02 after it re-entered the Japanese market with a fixed-income sales desk.

At 11:20 a.m. ET. the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index was up 50.01 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 15,439.61 as investors bought into financial stocks, which tend to perform better in a higher rate environment.

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Seven of the index's 10 main groups were higher, with advancers slightly outnumbering decliners overall.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metal miners and fertilizer companies, erased early losses, rising 0.1 per cent as gold prices fell after the Fed move and copper and other industrial metals lost ground in the wake of a stronger U.S. dollar.

Kinross Gold Corp fell 1.9 per cent to $5.25, while Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. dropped 3.8 per cent to $4.11.

Eldorado Gold Corp, however, jumped 2.2 per cent to $2.81 as the miner temporarily backed down on a threat to halt Greek investment after "constructive" talks with the country's government.

U.S. stocks slipped from their all-time highs on Thursday, weighed down by Apple and the hawkish stance of the Federal Reserve, which hinted at raising interest rates for a third time this year despite low inflation.

Shares of Apple fell 1.7 per cent and was on track to post its biggest two-day decline since June. The stock was the biggest drag on the three major indexes.

Investors were also absorbing the Fed's decision to start ending monetary stimulus by reducing its approximately $4.2 trillion in holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities - acquired in the years after the 2008 financial crisis - from October.

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While the central bank left rates unchanged, it cited low unemployment, growth in business investment and an economic expansion that has been moderate but durable this year to build its case for another rate hike in 2017.

Interest rate futures are now pricing in about a 70-per-cent chance of a December hike, according to CME's FedWatch tool, up from above 50 percent prior to the Fed meeting.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the fall in inflation this year remained a mystery, adding that the central bank was ready to change the interest rate outlook if needed.

"Today's movement is most likely a give back as people digest the Fed statement and press conference," said Michael Dowdall, investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management.

"Clearly the Fed doesn't have answers on the 2017 low inflation weakness but they're still very sensitive to falling behind the curve so they want to stay in front of the inflation curve."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 9.04 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 22,403.55, the S&P was down 4.57 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 2,503.67.

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The Nasdaq Composite was down 34.31 points, or 0.53 per cent, at 6,421.74.

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the technology index's 0.76 percent fall leading the decliners.

Nvidia pared losses to trade down 3.1 per cent after GlobalFoundries, which fabricates chips for Advanced Micro Devices, said Tesla had not committed to working with the company to develop its own artificial intelligence chip for self-driving cars.

Advanced Micro pared gains to trade up 0.3 per cent, while Tesla was off 0.8 percent.

U.S. stocks have continued to climb this year, with the S&P up about 12 per cent so far, helped by strong corporate profits and optimism that U.S. President Donald Trump will cut taxes for businesses.

Valuations are stretched with the S&P trading near 17.6 times expected earnings, compared to its 10-year average of 14.3, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

Shares of Calgon Carbon soared 61.9 per cent after Japanese chemical manufacturer Kuraray agreed to buy the carbon materials firm for $1.107-billion.

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