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Equities

Canada’s main stock index started higher Thursday with a boost from energy and tech shares. U.S. markets were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday after coming off a winning session on Wednesday.

At 9:32 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 49.19 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 21,597.62.

U.S. markets will reopen on Friday for an abbreviated session.

On Wednesday, the latest Fed minutes showed an increasing number of policymakers would back speeding up tapering of the central bank’s bond-buying program and move more quickly on interest rates if rising price pressures persist.

“At this point, it makes sense to expect an earlier, and maybe a steeper rate normalization from the Fed,” Swissquote senior analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya said in a note.

“The U.S. 2-year yield continues pushing higher on rising expectation of a tighter Fed policy, but appetite in U.S. equities is not much hit. "

In this country, the CRTC hearings into Rogers Communications Inc.’s $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. continues with competitor BCE Inc. set to make its presentation.

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.20 per cent by midday, despite concerns about the possibility of more restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. Figures released Thursday showed Germany has become the latest country to surpass 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel has reportedly pushed for a two-week lockdown in response to the situation, although Germany’s new government alliance has pushed back.

Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.14 per cent. Germany’s DAX added 0.09 per cent. France’s CAC 40 was up 0.20 per cent.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.67 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.22 per cent.

Commodities

Crude prices slid in early going as markets now turn their attention to next week’s OPEC+ meeting after the announcement this week of a U.S.-led agreement to release emergency reserves to combat high energy costs.

The day range on Brent is US$80.69 to US$81.40. The range on West Texas Intermediate is US$77.95 to US$78.65. Both benchmarks saw modest losses on Wednesday.

OPEC+ members will meet next Wednesday and Thursday to consider whether they should change their current production strategy. The group has been adding 400,000 barrels a day since August, curbing cuts made last year in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. has urged OPEC+ to increase production to cool energy markets, although the group has resisted. This week, U.S. President Joe Biden said a group of countries will release strategic reserves in a bid to address market conditions. Traders have speculated that OPEC could pull back output in response, although a number of members have reaffirmed support for the current pact.

“I do not expect OPEC+ to dial back on production hikes next week in retaliation,” OANDA senior analyst Jeffrey Halley said.

“The grouping is nothing if not pragmatic. From a geopolitical perspective, rubbing salt in the wounds of their largest customers would be counterproductive although we can expect some peripheral noise from bay boys, Russia and Iran.”

He also noted that high compliance levels with the current plan suggest that OPEC is pumping crude as fast as it can and will likely struggle to meet increased target allocations anyay.

“Taken in totality, prices will remain solidly supported on material dips, as we have seen over the past week,” Mr. Halley said.

Gold prices, meanwhile, were slightly firmer after a five-session losing streak.

Spot gold rose 0.2 per cent to US$1,792.20 per ounce by early Thursday morning, after slipping to its lowest since Nov. 4 on Wednesday. U.S. gold futures gain

Currencies

The Canadian dollar was steady, trading around 79 US cents, while its U.S. counterpart weakened slightly but still held close to its best level in 16 months against a group of currencies.

The day range on the loonie is 78.89 US cents to 79.12 US cents.

“The CAD remains at the mercy of external factors and sentiment to a large extent at the moment we believe; the broader risk backdrop looks a little more constructive this morning as global stocks are trading in the green,” Shaun Osborne, chief FX strategist with Scotiabank, said. “Oil prices have softened somewhat again, however.”

There were no major Canadian economic releases due Thursday.

On world markets, the dollar index reached a 16-month peak late on Wednesday but eased overnight and was down 0.2 per cent on the day at 96.664 early Thursday, according to figures from Reuters. The index has gained about 2.7 per cent this month.

Against the Japanese yen, the U.S. dollar was close to a five-year high.

The euro was up 0.2 per cent versus the dollar at US$1.12215.

Economic news

Germany real GDP and consumer confidence

With Reuters and The Canadian Press

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