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Trader Steven Kaplan works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

Richard Drew/AP

The Toronto stock market opened lower as the U.S. GDP grew in the fourth quarter, and the number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to a four-month low.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 16.17 points to 14,167.93 after sustaining a three-digit loss at the close yesterday. The Canadian dollar was ahead by 0.01 of a cent to 90.23.

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.6 per cent annual rate in the October to December quarter, slightly better than previously estimated, as consumer spending rose at the fastest pace in three years. Analysts had been expecting a growth rate of 2.4 per cent.

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Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department reported that jobless claims fell 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 311,000, the lowest since late November and a hopeful sign that hiring could pick up.

The Dow Jones industrials fell 6.23 points to 16,262.76, the Nasdaq shed 10.11 points to 4,163.47 and the S&P 500 index dipped 3.77 points to 1,848.79. The latest economic data pointed to improving conditions, but investors were reluctant to make big bets amid tensions in Ukraine and a drop in Citigroup shares.

In commodities, June gold bullion contract took back $5.20 to US$1,298.20 an ounce and the May copper contract gained two cents to $2.98 a pound. Oil gained $1 to $101.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

- With files from Reuters

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