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TORONTO, May 18 (Reuters) - Canada’s main stock index turned higher on Wednesday, boosted by banks and life insurance companies as investors awaited the release of minutes from a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting amid rising talk of an interest rate increase.
Meanwhile, gold and other metal miners weighed on the market after a stronger U.S. dollar pushed commodity prices broadly lower. Energy stocks were mixed as an Alberta wildfire threatened oil sands facilities.
At 10:20 a.m. EDT (1420 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 14.68 points, or 0.11 percent, at 13,931.78 after opening lower.
Six of the index’s 10 main groups were in positive territory, with financials up 0.4 percent and industrials rising 0.7 percent.
The Fed minutes, scheduled for release at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), could give clues on the path of rate hikes. Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said on Tuesday that he would advocate for an increase in June or July. Two other central bank officials said they expected up to three hikes this year.
Manulife Financial Corp rose 2 percent to C$18.57, and Sun Life Financial Inc gained 1 percent to C$44.07. The country’s main banks were also higher, with smaller gains.
Pipeline companies were among the most influential decliners, with Pembina Pipeline Corp down 0.8 percent at C$36.76 and TransCanada Corp off 0.3 percent at C$52.54.
The fire, which began in early May, forced the evacuation of thousands of workers on Tuesday, prolonging a shutdown that has cut Canadian oil output by a million barrels a day, or about one-quarter of the nation’s total output.
The broader energy group retreated 0.4 percent. It has recovered all the sharp loss incurred in the blaze’s early days.
Gold fell as the U.S. dollar hit a three-week high after strong U.S. economic data and Fed officials’ comments bolstered expectations of a rate hike.
Franco Nevada Corp lost 2.4 percent to C$87.77, and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd fell 1.3 percent to C$61.52.
First Quantum Minerals declined 2.2 percent to C$9.02, and Teck Resources slipped 1.3 percent to C$12.92.
The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.7 percent.
U.S. crude oil prices were up 0.3 percent at $48.44 a barrel, while Brent added 0.1 percent to $49.34.
Gold futures fell 0.5 percent to $1,270.30 an ounce, while copper declined 1.2 percent to $4,602 a tonne. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)
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