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The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at a record high on Wednesday, while Nasdaq gave up its earlier gains and closed in red. The TSX climbed, but remains below its record high of last month.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 122.71 points, or 0.64%, at 19,310.74. Energy stocks led the advance, gaining 2.72%. As in the U.S., tech was a weak spot, with that sector declining 1.20% in Toronto.

The rise in the energy sector came despite oil ending little changed after two days of gains, as the market weighs the outlook for demand with coronavirus infections still surging worldwide.

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Both Brent and U.S. futures contracts hit their highest levels since mid-March in intraday trade before retreating. The $70-per-barrel mark has acted as a barrier for the market since March, with investors unwilling to push oil higher as COVID-19 cases increase in parts of the world.

Brent crude settled at $68.96 a barrel, up 8 cents. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled at $65.63 a barrel, down 6 cents.

On Wall Street, energy and materials continued this week’s momentum, leading gains among S&P 500 sectors. Defensive utilities and real estate led sectoral declines.

“Energy, financial, materials, industrials are all outperforming. They tend to be cyclically oriented sectors and tend to benefit during periods when the economies are reopening and expanding,” said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index recovered from a sell-off on Tuesday. Megacap technology companies including Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc were down.

Strong economic data and earnings pushed the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes to record high last week, but markets have wobbled amid concerns about rising inflation and potentially higher U.S. interest rates.

“Once you have markets hitting the highs we have seen recently, the one thing investors are worried about is rising inflation and what that means for profitability of companies,” said Shawn Cruz, senior market strategist at TD Ameritrade.

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The tech sell-off accelerated on Tuesday after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen suggested that interest rates might need to rise in an overheating economy.

She later clarified that a near-term interest rate hike was not something she was “predicting or recommending” on Tuesday evening.

The ADP National Employment Report showed U.S. private payrolls increased in April as companies rushed to boost production amid a surge in demand, powered by massive government aid and rising vaccinations against COVID-19.

A more comprehensive reading in the form of the Labor Department’s non-farm payrolls data is due on Friday.

Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 96.99 points, or 0.28%, to 34,230.02, the S&P 500 gained 2.97 points, or 0.07%, to 4,167.63 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 51.08 points, or 0.37%, to 13,582.43.

Read more: Stocks that saw action on Wednesday - and why

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Reuters, Globe staff

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