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The close: TSX slips as gold miners fall with bullion prices

A TSX tote board is pictured in Toronto in this file photo.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Canada's main stock index fell on Tuesday after an easing of tensions between North Korea and the United States hit the price of bullion, sending shares of gold-mining companies lower.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index closed down 22.07 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 15,097.84. Six of the 10 main sectors on the index were lower.

Major financial stocks were among the index's most influential gainers, although the group was flat overall. Bank of Nova Scotia was up 0.4 per cent to $77.76, while Toronto-Dominion Bank rose 0.2 per cent to $64.18.

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Data released on Tuesday showed lending to Canadian small businesses rose for a fifth straight month in June on stronger activity in construction and other major industries.

The materials group, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.4 per cent.

Shares of companies mining gold retreated after the price of the metal declined as North Korea signaled it would delay a decision on firing missiles towards Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific.

Gold, seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty, had hit a two-month high of $1,291.86 on Friday after a week of escalating military threats between Washington and Pyongyang.

Barrick Gold Corp fell 0.8 per cent to $21.11, and Goldcorp Inc declined 0.5 per cent to $16.23.

U.S. stocks ended little changed on Tuesday as declines in Home Depot and other retailers following results offset upbeat U.S. retail sales data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 6.68 points, or 0.03 percent, to 22,000.39, the S&P 500 lost 1.15 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 2,464.69 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.22 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 6,333.01

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The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.09 per cent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.10 per cent.

Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields hit one-week highs as investors pared low-risk bond holdings on signs of easing U.S.-North Korean tensions and strong domestic retail sales and regional factory activity data.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 13/32 in price to yield 2.2623 per cent, from 2.218 percent late on Monday.

The U.S. dollar rose to its highest in nearly three weeks against a basket of major currencies for two main reasons, according to Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington, D.C. "One was that the consumer had been a no-show in recent months," said Manimbo, adding, "the specter of cooler heads prevailing on the geopolitical front is dollar positive, particularly against safe-haven rivals."

The dollar index rose 0.49 per cent, with the euro down 0.44 per cent to $1.1726.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.81 per cent versus the greenback at 110.52 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2861, down 0.79 per cent on the day.

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Gold fell nearly 1 per cent, down for a second day on Tuesday after better-than-expected U.S. economic data and easing tensions over North Korea encouraged investors to buy riskier assets, boosting stocks, the U.S. dollar and bond yields.

"Gold longs liquidated as the chances of a Korean catastrophe appeared to fall significantly overnight and this morning surprisingly strong U.S. retail sales data buoyed U.S. yields and the dollar, which pressured gold further to lows," said Tai Wong, director of base and precious metals trading for BMO Capital Markets in New York.

"Silver retreated sharply in sympathy as well but both metals have held important support and may trade sideways ahead the Fed minutes tomorrow."

Spot gold was down 0.8 percent at $1,271.58 an ounce, taking losses since Friday's high to nearly 2 percent.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery fell 0.8 per cent to settle at $1,279.70. Silver was down 2.1 per cent at $16.65 an ounce, falling below its 100- and 200-day moving averages.

Oil prices held steady after Monday's heavy selloff, weighed by a strong U.S. dollar - which makes oil more expensive for overseas buyers - and signs of weaker demand in China, the world's second-largest consumer.

U.S. crude settled down 0.08 per cent. In late trade it rose 0.06 per cent to $47.62 per barrel and Brent was last at $50.86, up 0.26 per cent on the day.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ended the day unchanged. Japan's Nikkei stock index ended 1.1 percent higher, boosted by the weaker yen, more than erasing the previous day's losses.

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