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Traders work at the trading post that trades Citigroup stock on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in this file photo.

BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

The Toronto stock market inched lower in early trading as concerns about the U.S. government fiscal situation dominated attention ahead of the Christmas holiday.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 2.18 points to 12,383.52, in a shortened trading session that ends at 1 p.m. ET. The TSX Venture Exchange rose 5.24 points to 1,182.95.

The Canadian dollar was at 100.78 cents (U.S.), up 0.12 of a cent.

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Gold stocks dropped 0.6 per cent with the February bullion adding 30 cents to $1,660.40 (U.S.) an ounce. March copper was up 1.5 cents at $3.55 (U.S.) a pound.

January crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange slid 36 cents to $88.30 (U.S.) a barrel.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials dropped 35.87 points to 13,154.97, the Nasdaq fell 8.38 points to 3,012.63 and the S&P 500 index was off 3.88 points at 1,426.27. U.S. stock markets will also close early.

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