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The close: TSX ends lower as resource groups head in opposite directions

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014.

Mark Blinch/Reuters

Canada's main stock index reversed course to end lower on Wednesday as a drop in oil prices weighed on energy shares, offsetting gains for the materials group as base and precious metal prices climbed.

Losses for the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index, which had spent much of the day in positive territory, came as the United States laid down a tough line for modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The index closed down 15.63 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 15,082.21. It was the second straight day of modest losses for the index.

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"It is a bit of a split day for Canada, where we have the resource sectors going in opposite directions," said Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets Canada.

Suncor Energy Inc was the biggest drag on the TSX, ending down 1.9 per cent at C$39.94. The overall energy group, which accounts for one-fifth of the TSX's weight, fell 1.2 per cent as oil prices weakened.

U.S. crude oil futures settled 1.6 per cent lower at $46.78 a barrel even though U.S. crude stockpiles declined by the most in a year, as data suggesting domestic production was edging higher stoked worries about the global crude glut.

In contrast, zinc prices surged to their highest in almost a decade while aluminum and copper hit their highest since 2014 as rises across most industrial metals triggered pre-set buy orders and a wave of speculative buying.

Gold prices also climbed, boosted by a weaker U.S. dollar after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the disbanding of two high-profile business advisory councils, and minutes from July's meeting of the Federal Open Markets Committee showed that policymakers had grown increasingly worried about weak U.S. inflation readings.

"The street (financial markets) took the minutes as being dovish," Cieszynski said.

Base-metal miner Teck Resources Ltd ended up 5.1 per cent at C$29.76, while First Quantum Minerals Ltd rose 9.7 per cent to C$13.41 and HudBay Minerals Inc jumped 11.8 per cent to C$10.26.

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The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 1.7 per cent.

Manulife Financial Corp was also among the most influential gainers, rising 1.3 per cent to C$25.46. But the overall financials group dipped 0.1 per cent, while industrials ended down 0.8 per cent as railroad stocks lost ground.

Seven of the index's 10 main groups ended lower..

Wall Street ends up but off highs after Trump announcement, Fed minutes

U.S. stocks ended slightly firmer on Wednesday but off the day's highs as worries mounted over President Donald Trump's agenda and minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting suggested policymakers are worried about weak inflation.

Indexes lost some ground following Trump's disbanding of two high-profile business advisory councils after two more CEOs resigned from the manufacturing council on Wednesday in response to his comments on weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Wall Street stayed volatile following the release of the last Federal Reserve meeting's minutes, which showed policymakers appeared increasingly wary about recent weak inflation. Some called for a halt to further interest rate hikes until it was clear the trend was transitory.

"The reaction to the statement was mixed. Investors are worried inflation is not hitting the Fed's target and that the Fed may be tightening too early," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

At the same time, that could push out the next rate increase, which would be supportive to stocks, he said.

Investors have been watching a slide in inflation readings in recent months, which remain below the Fed's 2 per cent target.

Fed policymakers unanimously decided to keep interest rates unchanged at their July 25-26 meeting.

The S&P materials index rose the most of any sector, gaining 0.9 per cent, following gains in copper and other metals.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 25.88 points, or 0.12 per cent, to end at 22,024.87, the S&P 500 gained 3.5 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 2,468.11 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12.10 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 6,345.11.

Trump announced the break-up of the advisory councils after 3M Co's Inge Thulin became the latest of several chief executives to leave Trump's American Manufacturing Council, and the president's Strategic and Policy Forum broke up of its own will.

"That throws a little bit more doubt into the president's abilities to push his policies through," said David Schiegoleit, managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management in Newport Beach, California.

After the bell, shares of Cisco Systems fell 2.3 per cent after it reported results.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.52-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.23-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 49 new 52-week highs and 10 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 98 new highs and 85 new lows.

About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 6.3 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

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