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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

Inside the Market

At the open: Markets higher, but cautiously so Add to ...

North American stock markets opened higher, but volumes were thin as investors hoped for a decisive win tonight in the U.S. Presidential race.

A few minutes past the 9:30 a.m. (ET) open had the S&P/TSX index up 28 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 12,381; the S&P 500 up 5 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 1,422; and the Dow Jones industrial average up 64 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 13,177.

Major commodities are also higher this morning, with oil up 87 cents at $86.62 (U.S.) in New York, and gold up $7.60 at $1,690.

Polls give a slight edge to Barack Obama of the Democrats over Mitt Romney of the Republicans, though it's expected to be a tight race. The general feeling on Wall Street this morning is that Mr. Obama should be able to pull out a victory. That might not be such a bad thing for stocks, given that historically markets have performed better under the Democrats.

But whoever wins, the best case scenario may very well be a decisive victory for either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney. A clear win may pave the way for a speedy budget agreement in Congress that will avert the so-called fiscal cliff -- a combination of tax increases and spending cuts set that could take effect at the start of 2013. The latest polls, however, suggest more protracted bipartisan delays in Washington, with the Democrats maintaining their majority in the Senate and Republicans having majority control in the House.

A lift in European equities overnight provided an encouraging backdrop. But it's a nervous market on that side of the Atlantic given an austerity vote is set for Wednesday in Greece that will help determine whether European regulators will pass out more aid. Elsewhere overnight, Australia’s central bank unexpectedly held its official interest rate steady at 3.25 per cent, saying that recent indications on the world economy were more positive.

There are no major economic data out today in either Canada or the U.S., but markets are absorbing another bevy of earnings reports. The third-quarter results haven't been much reason for celebration so far. Of the S&P 500 companies that have already reported, 71 per cent surpassed analysts' profit estimates, but 60 per cent missed sales projections, according to Bloomberg data.

The following are some stocks moving on news this morning:

Inmet Mining Corp has failed in its hostile bid to acquire Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. Inmet shares are up 1.2 per cent at $56.66; Petaquilla plunged 20.3 per cent at 51 cents.

AOL Inc. swung to a third-quarter profit of 22 cents a share from a loss of 2 cents a year ago. That beat expectations and shares are up 9.3 per cent.

Yellow Media Inc., which spent the last several weeks arguing before a judge that it needs to restructure its debt if it is to survive, posted a $24-million profit in its third quarter. Its shares opened up 6.6 per cent at 8 cents.

Express Scripts Holding Co., the largest U.S. pharmacy benefits manager, said analysts' profit estimates for fiscal 2013 were "overly aggressive." Shares are down 14.3 per cent.




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