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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Aug. 27, 2013 as the U.S. benchmark index slumped to a seven-week low. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Aug. 27, 2013 as the U.S. benchmark index slumped to a seven-week low. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

At the open: TSX little changed amid U.S. worries Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was little changed Friday as traders avoided risk going into the weekend amid the possibility of a U.S. government shutdown and BlackBerry turned in a huge quarterly loss and dismal sales figures as expected.

The S&P/TSX composite index edged up 1.42 points to 12,843.04.

BlackBerry lost US$965-million in the second quarter as revenue plunged 49 per cent from the previous quarter and 45 per cent from a year earlier to US$1.6-billion, amid dismal sales of its new smartphones. However, the results were in line with company estimates issued last week when BlackBerry announced 4,500 jobs will be cut from its global workforce.

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BlackBerry shares (TSX:BB) (Nasdaq:BBRY) gained 10 cents to $8.32 on the Toronto Stock Exchange shortly after trading began. In the U.S., BlackBerry shares gained nine cents to US$8.04 on the Nasdaq.

The Canadian dollar drifted 0.05 of a cent lower to 96.91 cents US amid skepticism going into the weekend that Congress can pass a funding bill to keep the federal government operating after Oct. 1, when its new fiscal year starts. Also, the U.S. borrowing limit needs to be raised before Oct. 17.

Conservative Republicans are insisting that the shutdown bill and a separate debt limit measure present an opportunity to demolish the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and slash spending.

U.S. indexes were also deep in the red as investors digested a report showing higher consumer spending and income growth during August.

The Dow Jones industrials dropped 78.89 points to 15,249.41, the Nasdaq was 18.43 points lower to 3,768.99 and the S&P 500 index was down 8.47 points to 1,690.2.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose 0.3 per cent in August. That’s up from a 0.2 per cent gain in July. Income rose 0.4 per cent in August, the best gain since February and up from a 0.2 per cent July increase.

The spending and income data is closely watched because consumer spending drives 70 per cent of U.S. economic activity.

The TSX benefitted from a two per cent rise in the gold sector as December bullion was up $10.30 to US$1,334.40 an ounce. Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) rose 35 cents to C$19.43.

The energy sector was slightly higher with the November crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange off three cents to US$103 a barrel. Suncor Energy (TSX:SU) rose 22 cents to C$37.55.

The base metals sector was the biggest decliner, down 0.5 per cent while December copper on the Nymex was ahead two cents to US$3.33 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) declined 51 cents to C$28.78.

In other corporate news, J.C. Penney, the struggling retailer that is trying to reassure the market about its financial stability, expects to raise about US$810.6-million via a public stock offering. J.C. Penney plans to offer 84 million shares priced at $9.65 per share. That is a 7.3 per cent discount to Thursday’s closing price of $10.42 per share. Its stock dropped almost nine per cent to $9.53 in New York.

European bourses were also week going into the weekend with London’s FTSE 100 down 0.84 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX lost 0.14 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 edged 0.05 per cent lower.

Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.3 per cent while in mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.2 per cent.

Markets in China were subdued ahead of the launch Sunday of a pilot free trade zone in Shanghai.

A weeklong holiday that starts Tuesday and follows another three-day holiday just last week was also expected to keep some investors on the sidelines.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 dipped 0.3 per cent after the country’s consumer price inflation rose at the fastest rate in five years in August. South Korea’s Kospi climbed 0.2 per cent.

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