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A trader works inside a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Sept. 21.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Canada's main stock index ended higher on Thursday, extending a 14-week high on the back of gains for heavyweight energy and financial stocks.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index unofficially closed up 65.32 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 15,454.92, its highest close since early June.

Bank of Nova Scotia increased 1.8 per cent to $79.33, while Toronto-Dominion Bank, Canada's biggest bank by assets, rose 0.7 per cent to $69.01 after it re-entered the Japanese market with a fixed-income sales desk.

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Bank of Montreal jumped 0.7 per cent to $92.76, while National Bank of Canada was up 1 per cent to $58.37, despite announcing a website error may have exposed the personal information of nearly 400 of its customer.

Other prominent gainers included ShawCor Ltd., which rose 12.3 per cent to $27.58 after TD Securities initiated coverage of its stock with a "buy" rating, and ProMetic Life Sciences Inc, which rose 5.4 per cent to $1.56.

Kinross Gold Corp fell 2.6 per cent to $5.21, while Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. dropped 4 per cent to $4.10.

U.S. stock indexes closed lower on Thursday, with market heavyweight Apple out of favor on concerns about its latest iPhones, while financials rose as investors reacted to rising expectations for a third interest rate hike this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 53.36 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 22,359.23, the S&P 500 lost 7.64 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 2,500.6 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 33.35 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 6,422.69.

Apple was the biggest drag on the three major indexes with a 1.7-per-cent drop on concerns about demand for its latest smartphone.

Investors increased bets the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise rates again this year and were also assessing the impact of the central bank's decision to start reducing its roughly $4.2-trillion U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

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With investors reacting to the signal for another rate hike and the start of the Fed's balance sheet normalization, the market does not appear to reflect the risks associated with U.S.-North Korea tensions and high valuations, said Peter Cecchini, chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

"The market is down 10 basis points but it is very complacent and very comfortable in its own skin right now and not really concerned about risk," said Cecchini, citing low market volatility.

The CBOE Volatility Index was slightly higher on Thursday at 9.79, but had hit its lowest level since August 8 earlier in the day.

Investors are now pricing in about a 70-percent chance of a December hike, according to CME's FedWatch tool, up from about 51 percent just prior to the Fed meeting.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the fall in inflation this year remained a mystery, adding that the central bank was ready to change the interest rate outlook if needed.

"Today's movement is most likely a give-back as people digest the Fed statement and press conference," said Michael Dowdall, investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management.

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"Clearly, the Fed doesn't have answers on the 2017 low inflation weakness, but they're still very sensitive to falling behind the curve so they want to stay in front of the inflation curve."

The S&P has risen about 11.8 per cent so far this year, helped by strong corporate profits and lingering optimism among some investors that U.S. President Donald Trump will cut taxes for businesses.

This has boosted valuations. The S&P is trading near 17.6 times expected earnings, compared to its 10-year average of 14.3, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

"It's very hard for me to see a tremendous catalyst for the upside although I also don't see that massive catalyst to create a crack to the downside," said Cantor's Cecchini.

Oil prices settled nearly flat on Thursday, the eve of a meeting of major oil-producing countries in Vienna to discuss whether they will extend production limits that have helped reduce the global crude glut.

Ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers meet on Friday. They will discuss a possible extension of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) of supply cuts to support prices and will consider monitoring exports to assess compliance.

While many analysts expect extension of the deal beyond next March, many also said prices have risen high enough to tempt countries to boost production beyond agreed levels.

"Compliance looks to be a bit of an issue" if prices rise much from current levels, said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York.

U.S. crude futures dipped 14 cents, or 0.3 per cent, to settle at $50.55 a barrel. Brent crude futures rose 14 cents, or 0.3 per cent, to end at $56.43 a barrel.

Mr. Kilduff noted that oil prices have surged more than 15 percent over the last three months as the production cuts, along with strong growth in energy demand, have tightened the global crude market.

"I don't think it's a sure thing they extend the deal at this meeting anyway," Mr. Kilduff said.

"Russia took a very long time to get to the compliance levels they were supposed to get to" in the output cut agreement, said Tariq Zahir, a trader with Tyche Capital Advisors in New York. "It wouldn't surprise me to see them cheat a little bit as we get to the fourth quarter."

He said OPEC's output cuts have boosted prices enough to encourage higher production elsewhere. U.S. shale production, especially, has been growing to record highs.

Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have pushed up crude inventories as some U.S. refineries have been shut by flooding.

U.S. crude production reached 9.51 million bpd last week, up from 8.78 million bpd after Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf late August.

Rising U.S. production is "a reminder to the market that OPEC has a significant problem on its hands from the continued rise in shale output," Again Capital's Kilduff said.

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