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Trader Andrew Silverman, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)
Trader Andrew Silverman, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Richard Drew/AP)

At the open: Markets mixed and cautious Add to ...

Canadian and U.S. stock markets opened mixed, dipping in and out of the red without a lot of momentum in either direction. Disappointing news overnight that there was little progress in resolving the European debt crisis is keeping traders cautious ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving day holiday.

In early trading, the S&P/TSX is down 9 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 12,036; the S&P 500 is down about 1 point, or 0.06 per cent, at 1,386; and the Dow Jones industrial average is up 17 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 12,805.

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A meeting of euro-zone finance ministers and International Monetary Fund officials early this morning ended without agreement on how to prevent Greece from going bust. The euro-zone's 17 finance ministers stated that they needed more time to "allow further technical work on some elements." They will meet again on Monday to try to thrash out a deal, which has been difficult to reach amid disagreement over debt-to-gross domestic product targets for Greece.

It'll be a struggle for the TSX and U.S. markets to post any meaningful gains today ahead of American Thanksgiving day on Thursday. U.S. markets will be closed for the holiday and will only be open for half a session on Friday. That should translate into thin volumes for the TSX for the rest of the week, and looming worries about the fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts set to take hold at the end of the year in the U.S. will continue to limit fresh buying interest.

In economic data this morning, U.S. initial jobless claims fell by 41,000 to 410,000 last week, matching expectations. But economists are finding areas of concern in the latest report. Data showed that the spike in claims two weeks ago was not just because of the effect Hurricane Sandy had on short-term employment. California's claims, for instance, surged by 25,000 due to weakness in the services industry.

"Thus, about 30 per cent of the rise in claims two weeks ago had nothing to do with Sandy, which we had not expected," commented Derek Holt, economist with the Bank of Nova Scotia. "One week's data in a volatile series is to be taken with a grain of salt, but it suggests that perhaps not all of the rise in claims will correct lower to the pre-storm readings once Sandy shakes out."

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for November came in at 82.7, softer than the 84.0 economists had expected, and down from last month's 84.9.

On this side of the border, a fresh reading today showed that Canadian home prices dipped in October for the second month in a row, while annual price gains eased to 3.4 per cent. Prices slipped 0.2 per cent from September, according to the Teranet-National Bank house price index, following a monthly decline of 0.4 per cent in September.

Here are some stocks moving on news this morning:

The National transportation Safety Board, citing reliability concerns, is looking to switch from RIM's BlackBerrys to Apple's iPhones. RIM shares are up 1.2 per cent in early trading.

Deere & Co. reported a higher quarterly profit as stronger machinery sales in North America offset weaker international demand, and it forecast higher sales and earnings in fiscal 2013. But shares are down 3.7 per cent as the profit figure was less than analysts' expected.

 

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