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At the open: Markets pull back as traders look to China inflation data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange June 24, 2014.

BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

The Toronto stock market pulled back Tuesday, with traders looking to gauge the health of the North American economy as the summer corporate earnings season gets underway.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 92.03 points to 15,080.85, dragged down by energy and financial stocks.

The loonie was flat, up 0.02 of a cent to 93.68 cents (U.S.).

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Traders are awaiting the latest results from U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa, which is set to report earnings after markets close. The company is viewed as an economic bellwether because its aluminum products are widely used in various sectors like manufacturing and the auto industry, and could point to the state of the American economy. Many Canadian companies report their earnings later this month and into August.

U.S. markets were down with the Dow Jones industrials losing 94.63 points to 16,929.58, the Nasdaq dropping 32.61 points to 4,418.92, while the S&P 500 lost 9.71 points to 1,967.94. The indexes had rallied last week to new highs following a government report that showed the world's largest economy generated a stronger-than-expected 288,000 jobs in June.

The markets will be preparing for the release of China's latest inflation figures, which are a key indicator for both policy and economic performance, on Wednesday. Investors will also be watching for the outcome of a presidential election Thursday in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation and the third-largest democracy.

"With a lack of strong catalysts for the market today, investors are likely to position themselves for tomorrow's data from China ... and developments from the Indonesian elections," IG said in a market commentary.

On the commodity markets, the August crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 43 cents to $103.96 (U.S.) a barrel. The price of oil slipped closer to $103 a barrel as concerns about possible supply disruptions continued to fade. Oil hit a 10-month closing high of $107.26 on June 20, reflecting worries that insurgents in Iraq might push into important oil-producing regions and choke off supplies from that country, the second-biggest exporter from OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries).

August bullion was up $6.40 to $1,323.40 an ounce, while September copper was up two cents to $3.27 a pound.

In Canadian corporate news, Quebec-based pharmacy chain Jean Coutu reported a lower first-quarter net profit of $54.1-million (Canadian), or 29 cents per share, compared with $108.6-million, or 51 cents per share, a year ago. Jean Coutu attributed the decrease is due to a gain of $54.4-million related to its investment in U.S. pharmacy chain Rite Aid. Most Canadian companies start to report their quarterly earnings later this month and into August.

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Montreal's CAE says it has signed contracts worth about $120-million with a number of global airlines and Bombardier for seven flight simulators, training equipment and other services. The airlines include Air France, Middle East Airlines, Indonesia's Lion Air and Turkish Airlines.

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