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Toronto stock market finishes flat; Wall Street closed for U.S. Thanksgiving

TORONTO – The Toronto Stock Exchange was barely changed Thursday, as traders avoided making any big moves while New York stock markets were closed for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

The S&P/TSX composite index slipped 5.71 points at 15,075.20 amid light trading volumes. Nearly all sectors were in positive territory except for utilities and consumer staples stocks, which registered small declines.

Major markets on Wall Street were expected to reopen Friday, but will only trade until 1 p.m. ET. It’s expected that volumes will also be light, with many anticipated to still be away on vacation.

“The Canadian market always takes the lead from the U.S. markets,” said Luciano Orengo, a portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

He noted that Canadian traders were taking advantage of the quiet trading day to catch their breath from the high volumes seen following the election of president-election Donald Trump.

“The market has had some big moves since the Trump election and you’ve had a whole host of economic data come out of the U.S. that has fuelled the upward trajectory of the market,” said Orengo.

“With the U.S. markets closed today and a half day tomorrow, there won’t be a lot of news that drives the directions of the markets. You put all those things together and it leads to what you see today.”

Once North American stock markets return to their regular schedule next week, investors will be turning their attention to the latest Canadian bank earnings. Four of the five major banks will report next week, starting with Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) on Tuesday.

The focus will also be on the upcoming meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, who are set to gather on Nov. 30.

The 14-member cartel consented to a pact in principle in September, as part of a concerted effort to limit oil production and support oil prices. They’re expected to reveal more details of the plan following the meeting.

OPEC members, which include Saudi Arabia and Iran, continue to pump record amounts of crude despite declining oil prices.

Orengo said he anticipates indices will continue a good run in December, noting that historically, a strong November spells a good end to the year.

“You could have a market sell-off next week, maybe because the OPEC meeting falls apart… and then the markets can retake the upward trajectory after that and we get a rally for the year end,” he said.

The Canadian dollar was flat, gaining 0.02 of a U.S. cent to 74.12 cents US.

Commodities markets were also closed for the U.S. holiday.

On Wednesday, the January crude contract dipped seven cents at US$47.96 per barrel, while January natural gas advanced five cents to US$3.15 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract fell $21.90 to US$1,189.30 and December copper contracts were up six cents at US$2.61 a pound.

Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.