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North American stocks swung between positive and negative territory on Friday, as investors digested a bundle of fresh economic data and weighed the significance of Ottawa's decision to allow a fourth national wireless carrier in Canada.

Confidence among the U.S. consumer rose this month as the rate of job losses declined, according to the Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment.

At the same time, the U.S. Commerce Department said retail sales rose 1.3 per cent last month, the best gain since August and more than double what economists had expected.

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In New York, shares of the retail giant Macy's soared 5 per cent, while the S&P 500 was moving between fractional gains and losses at noon. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 33.86 points to 10439.69. The Nasdaq fell 8.37 points to 1409.10.

In Toronto, the S&P/TSX dipped 62.13 to 11402.44, with the telecom sector leading decliners. Shares of Rogers fell 5 per cent, BCE 3 per cent and Telus 2 per cent after the federal government overturned an October ruling by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and allowed Globalive Communications to enter the wireless market without delay.

The price of oil dipped 83 cents to $69.71 a barrel.

The Canadian dollar slipped 0.35 cents at 94.85 cents (U.S.).

The price of gold fell $12 to $1,114.20 an ounce.

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