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Stocks Give Back Gains

Futures for Canada's main stock index tumbled on Wednesday tracking a decline in commodity prices, as investors assessed big bank earnings in Canada and awaited key inflation data from the United States.

The TSX Composite bowed 5.41 points to 21,318.90.

March futures were down 0.6% Wednesday.

The Canadian dollar ditched 0.26 cents to 73.64 cents U.S.

Investors continue to parse quarterly earnings from big banks in Canada as Royal Bank of Canada reported a lower first-quarter profit on Wednesday, hurt by bigger provisions for loans.

However, the National Bank of Canada reported a higher first-quarter profit as robust performance at its financial markets unit cushioned the hit from an increase in loan loss provisions.

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On the economic slate, payroll numbers came out from Statistics Canada. They showed employees receiving pay and benefits from their employer—measured as "payroll employment" in the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours—increased in number by 31,600 in December.

Yearly, payroll employment jumped 223,500.

ON BAYSTREET

The TSX Venture Exchange gained 5.49 points, or 1%, Tuesday to 555.72.

ON WALLSTREET

Stock futures ticked lower Wednesday as investors looked ahead to a key inflation report due later this week.

Read:

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrials retreated 116 points, or 0.3%, to 38,900.

Futures for the S&P 500 parted with 18 points, or 0.4%, at 5,072.

Futures for the NASDAQ dropped 87 points, or 0.5%, to 17,934.

Online marketplace eBay rose nearly 5% after announcing that it was raising its quarterly dividend and would spend an additional $2 billion on buybacks. Urban Outfitters lost more than 9% after reporting weaker-than-expected results for the fourth quarter.

Wall Street is coming off a mixed session. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite rose slightly, while the Dow declined.

The S&P 500 and the Dow are off the highs they just notched late last week, but investors may want to think twice before they aggressively ramp up on equities.

In Japan, the Nikkei slid 0.1% while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dumped 1.5%.

Oil prices faded 0.16 cents to $78.71 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices skidded $1.80 to $2,042.30 U.S. an ounce.