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The Open: Weak U.S. retail results drag down stocks

Shares of Dollarama Inc. gained 4 per cent after the discount retail announced it was raising its dividend and said quarterly profit soared 40 per cent on sales growth of 15 per cent. Customers shop at the Dollarama discount store location at Spadina Ave and Adelaide St. West in Toronto, Ont. Dec. 7/2011.

Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Stock markets in Canada and the U.S. declined at the opening on Wednesday, as investors bunkered down for the outcome of a second federal Greek election this Sunday.

The declines followed reports that U.S. retail sales fell in May for a second month. The 0.2 per cent decline matched economists' expectations. Meanwhile, wholesale prices in the U.S. fell by 1 per cent, almost twice what had been forecasted, as costs of energy and food decreased.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX lost 17.41 points to 11479.89 points. Shares of Dollarama Inc. gained 4 per cent after the discount retail announced it was raising its dividend and said quarterly profit soared 40 per cent on sales growth of 15 per cent.

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In New York, the S&P 500 shed 4.87 points to 1319.31 points and the Dow Jones industrial average declined by 39.66 points to 12534.14 points.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson climbed more than 2 per cent after the company received regulatory approval for its $19.7-billion (U.S.) purchase of Synthes Inc. Dell Inc. jumped 5 per cent after the computer maker followed the trend in the tech industry and announced it would begin paying a quarterly dividend of 8 cents a share.

Shares of JP Morgan Chase & Co. shares rose 0.7 per cent ahead of CEO Jamie Dimon's testimony before a Senate committee today. He is to address the bank's multi-billion dollar trading fiasco and will likely face questions about the need for greater regulatory oversight.

Commodity prices were mixed, with oil seeing one of the biggest selloffs. The price of a barrel of crude fell $1.07 to $82.25. Copper prices fell 0.85 of a cent to $3.327 (U.S.) a pound. Gold increased by $9.60 an ounce, to $1,623.40. The Canadian dollar slipped 0.2 per cent to 97.25 cents

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