TSX moves slightly higher in shortened Christmas Eve session

TORONTO -- Yuletide cheer swept across the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday with most sectors higher in a shortened pre-Christmas trading session.

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Toronto's S&P/TSX composite index edged up 24.89 points to 13,309.80 as markets closed at 1 p.m. ET ahead of the holidays.

The climb extended the gain made Wednesday when the TSX jumped 202.05 points, but the main index still remains well below levels of some 14,600 where it started the year.

Christmas Eve is one of the slowest trading days of the year, with just over 154 million shares changing hands during the session.

The loonie was up 0.06 of a cent at 72.23 cents US. It remains near 11-year lows.

Trading south of the border was also subdued though it generally trended towards a more negative position.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones closed down 50.44 points at 17,552.17, while the broader S&P 500 index declined 3.30 points to 2,060.99. The Nasdaq rose 2.56 points to 5,048.49.

Most traders have already started their vacations, said Macan Nia, director of the capital markets and strategy team at Manulife Asset Management.

"There really shouldn't be too much action whether it's today or going into the end of the year," he said.

"You're basically monitoring to make sure there's no tail end risk events that could have an impact on your portfolio."

North American stock markets will be closed on Christmas Day with Wall Street resuming trading on Monday.

Canadian stock markets will remain closed for Boxing Day on Monday.

In commodities, the February gold contract rose $7.60 to US$1,075.90 an ounce, helping drive the TSX gold sector ahead 2.2 per cent.

March copper lost half a cent to US$2.12 a pound.

Oil prices extended their climb after an unexpected rise in supply inventories on Wednesday. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that weekly crude inventories dropped by 5.9 million barrels last week, against expectations they would rise.

The data helped the February contract for benchmark North American crude rise 60 cents to US$38.10 a barrel, while the January contract for natural gas added 4.6 cents to US$2.03 per mmBtu.

In corporate news, shares of Amaya Inc. (TSX:AYA) hit a fresh 52-week low of $16.51 in morning trading following a US$870-million verdict against the company by a Kentucky court over losses state residents faced on its PokerStars online gambling website.

The Montreal-based company said it will appeal the judgment, which it described as based on an arcane law dating back more than 200 years and completely disproportionate to the alleged offence. Its shares closed down 5.3 per cent or 98 cents at $17.50 on the TSX.

Open Text Corp. (TSX:OTC) has appointed former Oracle Corp. senior executive Stephen Murphy to be its president, starting Jan. 4. Shares of Open Text rose five cents to $67.61.


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