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At the open: Goldman meets "whisper" numbers

Are expectations too high? After strong earnings reports from Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., along with a better-than-expected report on U.S. jobless claims, North American stock market indexes fell slightly at the start of trading on Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 31 points or 0.3 per cent, to 9985. The broader S&P 500 fell 4 points or 0.3 per cent, to 1088.

Citigroup fell 4.6 per cent after beating expectations with its third quarter financial results. Goldman Sachs fell 1.3 per cent, also after topping expectations. The Wall Street Journal did point out however that the so-called whisper numbers for Goldman Sachs - that is, the unofficial earnings expectations - were a little higher than what the bank delivered.

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In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 83 points or 0.7 per cent, to 11,450.

Financials were among the worst hit, with Toronto-Dominion Bank down 0.7 per cent and Bank of Montreal down 0.4 per cent.

Gold stocks were also weaker, with Goldcorp Inc. down 0.3 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. down 0.8 per cent.

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