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North American stock exchanges were having trouble holding on to their early session gains at noon on Friday.

In Toronto, basic materials weighed down the S&P/TSX index, which shed 82.10 points to 11192.10. Gold producers felt the weight of a stronger U.S. currency, which rose on news of better than expected GDP in the fourth quarter. Barrick Gold, the world's biggest bullion producer, was off 2 per cent. The price of gold fell $7 (U.S.) to $1,076.60 an ounce.

In New York, Microsoft, Ford and Motorola pulled down the S&P 500, which was off 2.74 points at 1081.79. While Wal-Mart and Caterpillar advanced to help keep the Dow Jones industrial average steady, down just 2.27 points at 10118.19.

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The Canadian currency held its own against the rising greenback, in part thanks to better than anticipated data for Canadian GDP in November. The loonie rose 0.31 cents to 94.10 cents (U.S.) against the U.S. dollar.

The price of oil edged up 12 cents to $73.76 a barrel.

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