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For those of you eagerly awaiting the chance to trade Cenovus Energy Inc. - EnCana Corp.'s oil sands spinoff - it turns out you already can.

Despite the fact that the new company's public listing (under the symbol CVE) doesn't officially launch on the Toronto Stock Exchange until Dec. 3, the stock has been trading on the TSX on a "when-issued" basis for nearly a month now - since Nov. 2, to be precise. (It began when-issued trading on the New York Stock Exchange shortly afterward.)

EnCana spokesman Alan Boras explained that the "when-issued" stock basically acts like an option - giving holders the right to acquire a share when the actual shares are publicly issued. When-issued trading helps establish the market and price for the stock, to make for a smoother transition when the shares go live.

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And just what has the market established for Cenovus? As of Monday, the when-issued stock is going for $27.50 in Toronto - down from its first-day level of $28.30 and its peak, on Nov. 9, of $30.10. At that price, Cenovus's indicated market capitalization is about $20.7-billion - a little less than half of EnCana's total market cap.

Over the same period, EnCana's stock has slipped 5 per cent - even though the recent trends in oil and natural gas prices would seem to be more favourable to EnCana, which will continue as a pure-play natural gas company.

Over the past two weeks, natural gas prices have jumped 15 per cent in anticipation of rising seasonal demand, while oil prices have slipped 4 per cent.

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