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A trader monitors the screen on a trading floor in London January 22, 2010. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)
A trader monitors the screen on a trading floor in London January 22, 2010. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

The close: Markets rise as Fed meeting draws near Add to ...

North American markets closed higher amid slightly disappointing retail sales figures in the U.S. and as attention stayed focused on next week’s meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The S&P/TSX composite index climbed 22.34 points to 12,723.40. The Canadian dollar was down 0.20 of a cent to 96.65 cents US.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that Americans bought more cars, furniture and electronics in August, but held back on most other retail purchases. Spending at businesses rose 0.2 per cent last month, coming in below analyst estimates and resulting in the smallest gain in four months.

Next week, the Fed is expected to announce that it will begin tapering its $85-billion (U.S.) in monthly bond purchases. The stimulus has been widely credited with keeping a lid on interest rates and boosting lending and equities markets.

Trading was light as the TSX and Wall Street headed into the weekend and the start of the Jewish yom kippur holiday at sundown. The Dow Jones industrials jumped 75.42 points to 15,376.06, the Nasdaq was up 6.22 points to 3,722.18 and the S&P 500 was ahead 4.57 points at 1,687.99.

Gold prices continued to fall after closing at their lowest level in a month on Thursday. December bullion dropped $22 to $1,308.60 (U.S.) an ounce. The October crude contract dipped 39 cents to $108.21 a barrel. December copper was down a penny at $3.20 a pound.

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