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Global stocks stay flat, Canadian dollar weakens

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – A gauge of global stocks sputtered for a third straight session on Wednesday, unable to build on a jump in Chinese equities, while the Canadian dollar weakened after a dovish turn by the Bank of Canada.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Major U.S. indexes once again struggled to muster any positive momentum, with the S&P 500 appearing to have met a strong resistance point around the 2,800 level. After a strong start to the year, a lack of developments in trade negotiations between the United States and China has provided little incentive for investors to push equities higher.

“There’s nothing specific, the market has gained so much in such a short period of time, it has priced in a lot of the positive outcomes related to trade,” said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 92.66 points, or 0.36 percent, to 25,713.97, the S&P 500 lost 12.31 points, or 0.44 percent, to 2,777.34 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 50.24 points, or 0.66 percent, to 7,526.12.

Even with little on the trade front, Chinese shares surged to a nine-month high, bolstered by hopes of more stimulus measures from Beijing after China’s state planner said the government would implement measures to further boost domestic consumption to counter the impact of a slowing economy.

European shares closed just below the unchanged mark, as weak results from the troubled auto sector weighed and investor confidence in a rally that has sent stocks shooting up this year showed signs of fraying.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.04 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.26 percent.

In the latest sign of global central bank dovishness, the Bank of Canada held interest rates steady as expected on Wednesday amid a slowing economy and said there was “increased uncertainty” around the timing of future rate increases.

That in turned pushed the Canadian dollar to its worst level in about two months versus the greenback.

The dollar index rose 0.01 percent, with the euro unchanged at $1.1306.

The Canadian dollar fell 0.59 percent versus the greenback to 1.34 per dollar.

Despite the dovish lean by central banks, the Federal Reserve reported the U.S. economy continued growing in the first weeks of 2019 amid a still tight labor market in the face of a 35-day partial federal government shutdown and slowing global growth.

U.S. oil prices pared losses and Brent prices were modestly higher after data from the Energy Information Administration showed an unexpectedly sharp build in crude inventories, but a third weekly draw down in gasoline stocks kept losses at bay.

U.S. crude fell 0.51 percent to $56.27 per barrel and Brent was last at $65.99, up 0.2 percent on the day.

Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Susan Thomas and Phil Berlowitz

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