Toronto stock market appears ready for minor gains on US budget talks

TORONTO – The Toronto stock market appears ready to make some minor gains as signs develop that the White House and Congress are moving closer to averting the “fiscal cliff.”

The expectations that a budget deal could materialize are already sending U.S. stock futures higher.

Dow Jones industrial futures are up 46 points to 13,230. The broader S&P futures have added 5.8 points to 1,432.80. Nasdaq futures are up 19 points to 2,681.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.09 of a cent to 101.57 cents US.

A new proposal softens President Barack Obama’s long-held insistence that taxes rise on individuals earning more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000. He is now offering a new threshold of $400,000 and is lowering his 10-year tax revenue goals he had argued for a few weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the U.S. current account trade deficit narrowed in the July-September quarter to the smallest level since late 2010, but the improvement may not last.

The U.S. Commerce Department said the deficit fell to $107.5 billion in the third quarter, down nine per cent from the second quarter imbalance of $118.1 billion. It was the lowest trade gap since the final three months of 2010.

In commodities, oil prices trekked higher as the January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 51 cents to close at US$87.71 a barrel.

March copper declined about half a cent to US$3.66 a pound while February gold bullion moved down 10 cents to US$1,698.10 an ounce.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.4 per cent at 5,933 while Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 per cent to 7,638. The CAC-40 in France underperformed, trading steady at 3,639.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 1 per cent to 9,923.01, adding to the previous session’s 0.9 per cent gain. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.1 per cent to 2,162.46 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.1 per cent to 22,494.73.