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At the open: TSX slightly lower, traders look to U.S. housing data

Bombardier employees look at the C Series aircraft, after its first test flight in Mirabel, Quebec, September 16, 2013.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

The Toronto stock market drifted slightly lower at the end of a positive week.

The S&P/TSX composite index slipped 12.74 points to 14,689.55.

The Canadian dollar erased early gains to move up 0.1 of a cent to 91.9 cents (U.S.) while the latest inflation data showed rising price pressures.

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Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index for April rose at an annualized rate of two per cent, in line with expectations and up from 1.5 per cent the previous month.

On a monthly basis, the CPI was up 0.3 per cent, lower than the 0.4 per cent reading that had been forecast.

U.S. indexes were higher heading into the Memorial Day long weekend with the Dow Jones industrials ahead 36.2 points to 16,579.28, the Nasdaq was 2.79 points higher to 4,157.13 and the S&P 500 index climbed 2.16 points to 1,894.65.

Traders looked ahead to the release of new-home sales data for April. Economists expect that sales rebounded for the month, with the annual rate rising to 429,000 from 384,000 in March. But that is still below levels of 446,000 a year ago.

The TSX registered a solid gain Thursday in the wake of quarterly earnings results from Royal Bank and TD Bank that blew past analyst expectations. The rest of the big banks report next week.

The earnings helped push the TSX financial sector up 1.25 per cent this week. The other big gainer has been the base metals group, up 1.5 per cent for the week, in part due to data showing a strengthening Chinese manufacturing sector.

The energy sector was little changed while July crude in New York gained 32 cents to $104.06 (U.S.) a barrel.

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The gold sector led decliners, down 0.25 per cent as June bullion faded $1.80 to $1,293.20 an ounce.

July copper rose two cents to $3.16 a pound and the base metals sector was off 0.1 per cent.

In corporate news, Republic Airways' CEO Bryan Bedford says the carrier has no plans to cancel its large order of the new Bombardier CSeries jet. Questions have been raised about the airline's intentions for the aircraft after it announced a refocus of its regional service, which includes the phasing out of 50– and 100-seat planes to focus on Bombardier's Q400 turbo and Embraer's 170/175. But its shares fell six cents to $3.77 on reports that Moscow has raised questions about whether a deal with the transport giant to build Q400 turboprop aircraft in Russia will go through.

Elsewhere on the economic front, a closely watched survey shows that German business confidence has dipped, with companies less optimistic about both their current situation and the outlook for the next six months. The Ifo institute said Friday that its confidence index, a key indicator for Europe's biggest economy, slipped to 110.4 points this month from 111.2 in April.

Standard & Poor's rating agency has upgraded Spain's sovereign credit grade a notch to BBB, the third agency to do so in recent months and a further sign the country is turning the corner after five years of economic turmoil. The agency cited improved economic prospects and praising the conservative government's structural and labour reforms since 2010.

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