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At the open: Markets low on fiscal cliff negotiations

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses his first news conference since his re-election, at the White House Nov. 14, 2012.

LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS

The Toronto stock market racked up more losses as traders play it cautious ahead of meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and four top Congressional leaders as they grapple with a so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

The S&P/TSX composite index gave back 20.06 points to 11,791.32 while the Canadian dollar was up 0.03 of a cent to 99.9 cents US.

U.S. markets were flat with the Dow Jones industrials down 2.3 points to 12,540.08, the Nasdaq was off 2.93 points to 2,834 and the S&P 500 index inched 0.04 of a point lower to 1,353.29.

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Oil was up 88 cents to US$86.33 a barrel.

Trading in Astral Media stock has been halted, after news broke in The Globe and Mail of a new takeover arrangement with BCE "that seeks to overcome regulatory opposition with a plan to auction off a number of Astral's English broadcast assets."

North American markets have nosedived over the last seven sessions as the results of the U.S. election deepened pessimism that lawmakers can head off a series of tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect at the start of 2013. Some economists warn the moves could cause recession in the U.S. and other countries.

U.S. industrial output fell 0.4 percent in October largely due to the impact of the devastating superstorm Sandy which blasted the industry-heavy northeast at the end of the month, the Fed said.

Most analysts expected an increase of 0.1 per cent. Weak for much of the year, industrial production had climbed by 0.2 per cent in September after a contraction in August.

On Thursday, stocks ended slightly lower in volatile, pulled down in part by Walmart's disappointing earnings.

With files from AP and Globe staff.

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