North American stock markets down moderately ahead of Christmas holiday weekend - NEWS 95.7
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North American stock markets down moderately ahead of Christmas holiday weekend

Last Updated Dec 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm AST

TORONTO – Canada’s main stock index and its American peers posted minor losses in a low-volume trading session on Friday ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 17.36 points to 16,165.27, with the gold sector leading major advancers.

The February gold contract was up $8.20 to US$1,278.80 an ounce.

South or the border, a subdued week of trading came to a close on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.23 points to 24,754.06. The S&P 500 index inched down 1.23 points to 2,683.34 and the Nasdaq composite index gave back 5.40 points to 6,959.96.

“You really can’t read too much into market movements in a pre-holiday trading session today. The volumes are quite anaemic across the board,” said Ian Scott, equity analyst at Manulife Asset Management.

“U.S. volumes are down 27 per cent from average volumes. Canadian volumes are off almost 25 per cent from average volumes.”

In economic news, Statistics Canada reported Canada’s economy took a pause in October, with gross domestic product unchanged from the previous month. Analysts had estimated that Canada’s GDP would grow 0.2 per cent from September, based on some of the recent October economic data released earlier this week by Statistics Canada.

In currency markets, the Canadian dollar closed at an average trading price of 78.38 cents US, down 0.15 of a U.S. cent.

On the cryptocurrency front, trading in Bitcoin futures was volatile after making gigantic gains throughout the year. Futures dropped as much as 28 per cent before recovering some of their losses. Many economists and market watchers say bitcoin is a speculative bubble that is ready to burst any time.

Elsewhere in commodities, the February crude contract was up 11 cents to US$58.47 per barrel and the February natural gas contract was up seven cents to US$2.66 per mmBTU. The March copper contract was up two cents to US$3.24 a pound.

Canadian markets will be closed Dec. 25 and Dec. 26. American markets will be closed Dec. 25.

– With a file from The Associated Press.

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