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Canada’s main stock index Thursday closed just shy of this week’s record high, led by mining shares that received a boost from stronger gold prices as investors sought refuge from surging inflation. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index ended up 120.05 points, or 0.56%, at 21,581.98

The benchmark hit an all-time high of 21,594.52 on Tuesday.

The materials index, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 2.6%

Spot gold climbed 0.7% to the highest level since June, as investors sought cover after U.S. data on Wednesday showed inflation hit a 31-year high in October.

“The gold/inflation linkage is a fair conclusion to draw,” said Brian Madden, portfolio manager at Goodreid Investment Counsel.

“Bond markets are closed today too, for Remembrance Day, so investors who might otherwise have been selling bonds in a delayed reaction to yesterday’s inflation print could be instead buying inflation beneficiary stocks as a hedge,” he added.

The Toronto benchmark index returned to gains after taking a breather in the previous session on the inflation data, which triggered expectations that central banks could raise interest rates more rapidly to cool the spike in prices.

Health-care stocks index gained 2.7% as Aurora Cannabis Inc jumped 7.4% after analysts at CIBC World Markets and Cowen raised their target prices for the marijuana producer. Rivals Cronos Group, Canopy Growth Corp , and Tilray Inc all rose between 3.8% and 4.6%.

Stelco rose 10% after announcing better-than-expected quarterly results and saying it would raise its dividend.

CAE Inc was the biggest decliner on the index, slumping 10.1% as investors took stock of disappointing earnings from the aviation training specialist.

Element Fleet Management and Canadian Tire Corp also declined as analysts cut the former’s target price after it reported third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, and the latter missed profit and revenue expectations.

The S&P 500 ended only nominally higher on Thursday, with chipmakers helping push the Nasdaq into green territory in a muted Veterans Day session, the day after hotter-than-expected inflation reports dampened investor sentiment and halted a streak of record closing highs.

Walt Disney Co, falling in the wake of a disappointing earnings report, dragged the Dow into the red.

The bond market was closed in observance of Veterans Day, and in the absence of economic data and with third-quarter earnings season winding down, there were few catalysts to move markets in either direction.

“Days like today are really hard to judge because you essentially have half the market closed,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia. “Specific company and industry events are driving today’s markets.”

“There will be a lot more trading tomorrow than today, so we’ll have to wait and see what will happen,” Tuz added.

Investors were favoring growth over value, and economically sensitive smallcaps and chips were outperforming the broader market.

The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index gained 1.9%, bouncing back from its worst session in more than six weeks, driven by gains in Nvidia Corp after brokerage Susquehanna raised the chipmaker’s price target.

Market participants were digesting recent inflation data, which suggested that the current wave of price spikes due to chronic worldwide supply challenges could have more staying power than many - including the U.S. Federal Reserve - had hoped.

With consumer sentiment data expected tomorrow and a string of retailers due to report quarterly earnings over the next few weeks, focus is shifting to consumer spending as the holiday shopping season approaches.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 158.71 points, or 0.44%, to 35,921.23, the S&P 500 gained 2.56 points, or 0.06%, to 4,649.27 and the Nasdaq Composite added 81.58 points, or 0.52%, to 15,704.28.

Among the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, six closed higher, with materials leading the gainers. Utilities suffered the largest percentage loss.

Shares of Walt Disney Co sank 7.1% and were the heaviest drag on the Dow following its disappointing earnings release, in which the media company reported shortfalls in streaming subscribers and theme park revenues.

Electric automaker Rivian Automotive Inc’s shares jumped 22.1% a day after closing 29.1% above its offer price in its debut as a publicly traded company.

Rival Lucid Group Inc’s shares surged by 10.4%.

But Tesla Inc slipped 0.4% following news that CEO Elon Musk sold about $5 billion of the stock in the company over the last few days, following his infamous Twitter poll on whether he should shed 10% of his shares in the firm he founded.

Dillard’s Inc gained 10.0% after handily beating quarterly earnings and revenue forecasts. Fellow department stores Macy’s Inc and Nordstrom Inc, which have yet to report quarterly results, rose between 2% and 3.6%.

Tapestry Inc gained 8.4% after the luxury fashion accessories firm boosted its annual sales forecast and announced a $1 billion share buyback plan.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.37-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.40-to-1 ratio favored advancers. The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 114 new highs and 125 new lows. Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.61 billion shares, compared with the 10.91 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

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

Reuters, Globe staff

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