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The screens at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto show the closing numbers of the TSX on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. (Matthew Sherwood For The Globe and Mail)
The screens at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto show the closing numbers of the TSX on Tuesday, July 3, 2012. (Matthew Sherwood For The Globe and Mail)

The close: TSX inches ahead while U.S. markets closed Add to ...

The Toronto stock market made small gains on Thursday as political turmoil in Egypt found some resolution and Wall Street was closed for Independence Day.

The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 20.98 points at 12,166.66.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.1 of a cent to 95.05 cents US.

U.S. markets were closed for the holiday, which put most attention on developments overseas.

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In Egypt, the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, has been removed from office by the armed forces.

While Egypt is not an oil producer but its control of the Suez canal – one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, which links the Mediterranean with the Red Sea – gives it a crucial role in maintaining global energy supplies.

Investors around the world were keeping a close watch on the price of oil. Crude futures were lower in late-afternoon electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The regular trading session for the commodity will resume after the U.S. holiday.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has underlined the bank’s determination to stick with stimulus for the struggling euro zone, saying the bank will keep its benchmark interest rate the same or lower “for an extended period of time.”

The Bank of England held its first monetary policy meeting under new governor Mark Carney, saying that it views inflation pressures as temporary. That suggests it will keep its policies loose for the foreseeable future.

But not all was calm in Europe as Portugal’s governing coalition continued to look shaky, a situation that earlier this week raised the spectre of Europe’s debt crisis returning to a boil.

“Europe was sort of on the backburner for some time,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier.

“All of what’s happening in Portugal brings it to the forefront, and... there’s a sense it’s simmering there and maybe it’s going to come up and hit us again.”

On the TSX, the gold sector was slightly lower as Barrick Gold fell 20 cents to $15.31. August gold bullion also weakened in electronic trading on the Nymex.

Goldcorp Inc. has pulled its employees out of the Elenore project in the James Bay region of Quebec as a massive forest fire rages on. The company said the fire was about 100 kilometres away and advancing towards the mine site with the prevailing winds. Shares of the company fell 21 cents to $25.81.

Energy stocks rose 0.3 per cent with Encana Corp. dropping 11 cents to $17.74.

WestJet says its passenger traffic increased more than eight per cent in June, despite some cancellations and weakness in advance bookings following severe floods in southern Alberta. The company’s shares were down 11 cents to $22.39.

On Friday, jobs data from both the U.S. and Canada will provide another glimpse of how each country’s economy is playing out with businesses.

The U.S. government’s employment report is expected to show the economy created 165,000 jobs, following a gain of 175,000 in May. The jobless rate is forecast to dip to 7.5 per cent from 7.6 per cent.

Economists believe Statistics Canada will say that the economy cranked out only about 5,000 jobs in June, following a surprisingly strong gain of 95,000 in May, with the unemployment rate remaining unchanged at 7.1 per cent.

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