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Bay Street closed little changed Wednesday, but Wall Street lost ground on news of the first U.S. case of mad-cow disease, and as a report of falling durable goods orders muted optimism that the pace of U.S. economic growth is sustainable.

Beef-related stocks led Wall Street's slide in the wake of the mad-cow report. "It's a negative for beef producers, a negative for restaurants serving beef," said U.S. equity strategist Russ Koesterich at State Street Global Markets.

While the economic outlook in the United States, Canada's biggest market, didn't sink Canadian stocks, it did raise some concerns. "We're definitely going to need more business spending to preserve economic growth next year,' said Montreal market strategist Ian Nakamoto at Macdougall Macdougall & Mactier Inc. "Consumers have been spending for a few years now and look ready for a rest."

At the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Standard & Poor's/TSX composite index dropped 1.65 points to close at 8,136.78. The index has climbed 23 per cent this year, and is headed for its first annual gain in three years.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 36.07 points to 10,305.19, its first down day in seven trading sessions.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index slipped 1.98 points to 1,094.04, and the Nasdaq Stock Market's composite index shed 5.55 points to 1,969.23.

The TSX Venture Exchange's VEN index climbed 23.05 points to 1,689.84.

In TSX trading, EnCana Corp. led oil shares up on rising crude prices, but Manulife Financial Corp. fell after receiving a subpoena from New York Attorney-General Eliot Spitzer seeking information on improper trading of mutual funds.

Trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange ended at 1 p.m. Wednesday. It will remain closed until Monday, Dec. 29.

In U.S. trading, hamburger chain McDonald's Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. led stocks lower on the mad-cow report. Wendy's International Inc., the third-largest U.S. hamburger restaurant company, and Sonic Corp., the largest U.S. operator of drive-in restaurants.

Other losers included Deere & Co., the world's largest maker of farm equipment, and Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., which makes the best-selling test for mad-cow disease in animals.

Stock exchanges shut at 1 p.m. in New York Wednesday, and were closed yesterday for Christmas. They close at 1 p.m. today.

New York odd lots

Odd-lot trades made Tuesday through the New York Stock Exchange:
Customer purchases 9,708,070 Short sales 595,969
Other sales 6,703,220 Total sales 7,299,189

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