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Equities

Canada’s main stock index edged higher at Thursday’s open with gains in consumer discretionary stocks offset by weakness in the energy sector on the back of falling crude prices. U.S. markets are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

At 9:32 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 19.78 points, or 0.10%, at 20,133.74.

Heading toward Black Friday, retail stocks will shift into focus.

Joshua Mahony, chief market analyst with Scope Markets, said low trading volumes are expected as a result of Thursday’s U.S. holiday.

“Nonetheless, this paves the way for a busy end to the week, with Black Friday bringing potential volatility for retail names,” he said.

“The third quarter earnings season saw a number of retailers warn of a potentially difficult fourth quarter, and traders will therefore be on the lookout for insights from payment providers and retailers over spending levels for this key weekend.”

Swissquote senior analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya said in a note that U.S. Thanksgiving shopping is expected to be up 5.4 per cent this year according to Adope Analytics and it won’t be the result of inflated prices.

“On the contrary, according to Adobe e-commerce prices fell for the 14th straight month, by 6 per cent from last October to this October and if we factor in the online deflation, the Thanksgiving spending growth would be an eye-popping 12 per cent.”

However, she also noted that Americans spending tends to be from savings or on debt.

“In this context, the use of buy-now, spend-later options has jumped by 14.5 per cent since last year – and it will certainly hit back, one day,” she said.

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.13 per cent by midday. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 gained 0.17 per cent and 0.19 per cent, respectively. New figures released Thursday showed the downturn in euro zone business activity eased in November but remained broadbased, suggesting the bloc’s economy will contract again this quarter. Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 0.06 per cent.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.99 per cent. Markets were closed in Japan.

Commodities

Crude prices remained volatile after the previous session’s sharp losses following a surprise decision by OPEC+ to delay a ministerial meeting to discuss output cuts.

The day range on Brent was US$80.55 to US$81.60 in the early premarket period. The day range on West Texas Intermediate was US$75.81 to US$76.81. On Wednesday Brent fell as much as 4 per cent while WTI lost as much as 5 per cent.

The latest losses came after the OPEC+ group unexpectedly announced a day of a ministerial meeting, where production cuts were expected to be discussed. The meeting was initially scheduled for this weekend but was moved to Nov. 30.

Citi analysts said the delay came amid reports of troubled negotiations with Nigeria and Angola regarding their production quotas.

“We continue to expect that OPEC+ incentives are such that we will see Saudi Arabia roll its 1 million-barrels-a-day voluntary cut through [the first quarter of 2024], and the rest of OPEC+ members broadly committing to their existing quotas through 2024 (with perhaps some minor changes in quotas here and there),” Citi analyst said in a report.

“Having said this, the likelihood of a bearish outcome from the meeting appears to have risen given the meeting delay and potential broader disagreements, in our view, from a 10-per-cent to 20-per-cent indicative probability, at the expense of our base case scenario, from 70 per cent to 60 per cent, with our deepening cut scenario remaining at 20 per cent.”

In other commodities, spot gold was up 0.4 per cent at US$1,996.84 per ounce by early Thursday morning, after hitting a three-week high of $2,007.29 on Tuesday.

Currencies

The Canadian dollar was slightly firmer while its U.S. counterpart dipped in thin trading and continued to hover near its lowest in more than two months.

The day range on the loonie was 72.99 US cents to 73.26 US cents in the early premarket period. The Canadian dollar was up 0.51 per cent against the greenback over the past five days against its U.S. counterpart as of early Thursday morning.

On world markets, the U.S. dollar index was down 0.29 per cent at 103.62 in the predawn period. The index is off more than 2 per cent over the past month.

Elsewhere, the euro was 0.15-per-cent higher at US$1.0902 in early trading, according to figures from Reuters.

Britain’s pound was up 0.44 per cent at US$1.2547.

-With Reuters and The Canadian Press

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