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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index closed slightly lower on Wednesday after a seesaw session in which weakness in energy and financials offset gains for consumer and railway stocks, with energy stocks retreating despite a higher close for crude oil.
"It is fairly flat, non-directional," said Kevin Headland, director capital markets and strategy at Manulife Asset Management. "You've got the lead into the holiday season, the lead into the Fed announcement, you have conflicting information around oil out there."
U.S. crude CLc1 prices settled at $43.04 a barrel, up 0.4 percent, building on Tuesday's rally after a lower-than-expected U.S. stock build, while Brent crude LCOc1 added 0.3 percent to $46.25. [O/R]
Financials dipped 0.1 percent .SPTTFS, including a 0.6 percent drop in Sun Life Financial Inc (SLF.TO) to C$43.46, while Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM.TO was down 0.4 percent at C$99.38.
"Valuations for bank stocks look attractive," according to Headland, but "traditional banking growth is not there, the net interest margins are not there, we're unlikely to see a rise in interest rates, we're not going to a steeper yield curve in Canada."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE closed down 4.41 points, or 0.03 percent, at 13,403.42, with just four of the index's 10 main groups in negative territory.
Convenience store chain Alimentation Couche-Tard (ATDb.TO) rose 1.7 percent to C$62.14 as a handful of analysts upgraded their target prices on the stock after its quarterly earnings report.
The two main railway stocks rebounded after falling on Tuesday, with Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) rising 0.5 percent to C$78.46 and Canadian Pacific Railway CP.TO advancing 1.0 percent to C$196.62.
Gold futures GCZ5 fell 0.4 percent to $1,072 an ounce. [GOL/], while copper prices CMCU3 declined 1.3 percent to $4,548.85 a tonne. [MET/L]
Additional reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Will Dunham and David Gregorio