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A broad index of world stock markets edged lower on Tuesday as it struggled to maintain momentum amid lingering concerns over a trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

MSCI’s index of global equities inched 0.17 per cent lower on the day as investors awaited action from U.S. President Donald Trump after the expiry of a deadline for public comment on additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.13 per cent

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Canada’s main stock index briefly touched over three-month lows on Tuesday led by declines in materials companies amid the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade dispute and uncertainty over the future of NAFTA trade pact.

At 11:30 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 16.04 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 16,041.37. The index has closed lower in the past seven sessions.

Of the index’s 11 major sectors, six were trading lower, weighed down by a 0.6-per-cent fall in the materials sector .

Influential decliners on the materials index, which was pressured by a slide in metal prices, were Franco-Nevada Corp., down 2.7 per cent and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. off 2.2 per cent.

Second biggest lag on the main index was a 0.5-per-cent drop in the energy sector.

Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Imperial Oil Ltd. fell between 0.7 per cent and 1.9 per cent, biggest lags on the energy group.

The largest percentage gainers on the TSX were Hudson’s Bay Co., which rose 7. per cent, followed by Northland Power Inc,. which was up 3.9 per cent after BMO upgraded the stock.

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BRP Inc. fell 9.3 per cent, the most on the TSX, after launching a secondary offering.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18.22 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 25,875.29, the S&P 500 gained 0.28 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 2,877.41 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.09 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7,922.07.

“The fact that Trump still hasn’t announced the tariffs yet as expected has prompted a bit of cautious optimism, but it’s not a problem that’s going to go away,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

Emerging markets remained under pressure, with the broad MSCI index of those countries currencies down near 16-month lows and the Indian rupee near a record trough against the U.S. dollar.

An index of emerging market shares lost 0.93 per cent. Copper, heavily consumed by emerging markets, lost 1.19 per cent to $5,839.50 a tonne.

Having warned last week that he was ready to slap additional taxes on practically all Chinese imports, Mr. Trump was uncharacteristically quiet on trade on Monday.

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China will respond if the United States takes any new steps on trade, the foreign ministry said on Monday, after Mr. Trump warned he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports into the United States.

Separately, it emerged China would ask the World Trade Organization next week for permission to impose sanctions on the United States for Washington’s non-compliance with a ruling in a dispute over U.S. dumping duties that China initiated in 2013, a meeting agenda showed on Tuesday.

“Weakness is set to remain a recurring theme amid global trade tensions, a broadly stronger dollar and prospects of higher U.S. interest rates,” said Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at broker FXTM.

“With turmoil in Turkey and Argentina triggering contagion fears, appetite for emerging market assets and currencies is likely to continue diminishing.”

Spot gold dropped 0.3 per cent to $1,191.95 an ounce as the dollar resumed its ascent amid the risk-off sentiment and looming U.S. interest rate increases. The dollar index rose 0.11 per cent.

Oil prices rose about $1 a barrel on Tuesday as U.S. sanctions squeezed Iranian crude exports, tightening global supply despite efforts by Washington to get other producers to increase output.

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Brent crude futures rose $1.13 to $78.50 a barrel, a 1.5-per-cent gain.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained $1.10, or 1.6 per cent, at $68.64 a barrel.

WTI’s discount to Brent widened to as much as $10.38 a barrel, its deepest since June 20.

“Widening Brent-WTI differentials in association with a strengthening Brent curve and expanding NYMEX crack spreads continue to keep us in a cautious bullish frame of mind,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.

“Nearby Brent has been gaining independently during the past month as Iranian exports have begun to decline significantly well ahead of the official beginning of sanctions,” Mr. Ritterbusch added.

Washington has told its allies to reduce imports of Iranian oil and several Asian buyers, including South Korea, Japan and India appear to be falling in line.

But the U.S. government does not want to push up oil prices, which could depress economic activity or even trigger a slowdown in global growth.

Reuters

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