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North American stocks were mixed at the start of trading on Wednesday, with U.S. banks settling down after Tuesday's big moves and commodity prices weighing on Canada's benchmark index.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11 points or 0.1 per cent, to 13,189. The broader S&P 500 was down less than 1 point, to 1,395. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 45 points or 0.4 per cent, to 12,493.

Bank of America Corp. was among the big winners in U.S. financials, a day after most bank stocks saw big gains with the early release of results from the Federal Reserve's stress tests. Bank of America, which past the test, rose 1.8 per cent. However, JPMorgan Chase & Co. , which also passed the test and announced a dividend increase, fell 0.4 per cent. Citigroup Inc. , which failed the test, fell 3.8 per cent.

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Meanwhile, Walt Disney Co. fell 1.2 per cent, Boeing Co. rose 1.2 per cent and Apple Inc. rose 2.2 per cent.

Among Canadian stocks, gold producers were weak after the price of gold fell to $1,653 (U.S.) an ounce, down $41 – a delayed reaction to a relatively upbeat economic assessment from the U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday. While previous stimulus measures from the Fed had helped drive gold prices higher, hopes are dwindling that the central bank will need to resort to another round of stimulus. Barrick Gold Corp. fell 2.9 per cent.

Energy stocks were mixed after crude oil fell to $106.40 a barrel, down 41 cents. Suncor Energy Inc. fell 2.5 per cent but Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. rose 0.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, Canadian financials were strong – especially insurance companies, whose fortunes are in many way tied to the equity market and the direction of interest rates. Manulife Financial Corp. rose 5.5 per cent and Sun Life Financial Inc. rose 2.8 per cent.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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