Toronto stock market likely to weaken as commodity prices pull back

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TORONTO - The Toronto stock market appeared ready to open slightly lower on Friday as key commodity prices were weaker.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.15 of a cent to 101.72 cents US.

Oil prices fell back to near US$93 a barrel after China's inflation rose to levels that could affect the country's growth.

February crude was down 47 cents to $93.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gold prices backtracked with the February contract down $4 to US$1,674 an ounce.

Dow Jones industrial futures are down three points to 13,403. The broader S&P futures have lost 0.40 points to 1,466.70. Nasdaq futures are up a point at 2,738.

Also Friday, the government reports on the U.S. trade gap for November. The forecast is that the deficit narrowed to $41.3 billion from $42.2 billion in October. Later Friday, the Treasury reports on the federal budget for December.

In earnings, Wells Fargo, biggest mortgage lender in the U.S., earned a record $4.9 billion in the fourth quarter, up 25 per cent from the same period a year before. Revenue rose 7 per cent, to $21.9 billion.

The company will be followed next week by global financial services firm Morgan Stanley.

European countries are also facing their own uphill battle to restore economic growth. The economy of the 17 European Union nations that use the euro is in recession, and unemployment is soaring across the region.

In France, the CAC-40 fell 0.2 per cent to 3,695, while Germany's DAX edged up 0.1 per cent to 7,719. The FTSE index of leading British shares rose 0.2 per cent at 6,111.

Earlier in the day, the Nikkei closed 1.4 per cent higher at 10,801.57.

But not all Asian markets rallied, hemmed in by concerns about inflation in China. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 per cent to 23,264.07. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.5 per cent to 1,996.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.3 per cent to 4,709.50. Benchmarks in Singapore and mainland China also fell while those in the Philippines and New Zealand rose.

Organizations: New York Mercantile Exchange, Dow Jones, Wells Fargo Morgan Stanley European Union Nikkei

Geographic location: Toronto, U.S., China France Germany Hong Kong South Korea Australia Singapore Philippines New Zealand

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