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Stocks Wobble Amid Litany Of Issues -- Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks turned in a disappointing performance Friday amid mixed economic data and political turmoil in the U.S.

The TSX Composite Index was down 28.51 points to 16,038.97, but stayed near a recent record high.

In economic news, Canada's growth in real gross domestic product slowed to 0.4% in the third quarter, following a 1.0% increase in the second quarter. Increased household final consumption expenditure was the main contributor, while weaker exports moderated growth.

The nation's economy generated 79,500 net new jobs in November and drove the jobless rate down 0.4 percentage to 5.9 percent, the lowest in a decade.

On an annual basis, employment was up by 390,000 (+2.1%), with all the gains attributable to full-time work.

Meanwhile, U.S. markets were rattled by news that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the investigation of Russian meddling in last year's election.

A report from ABC News said Flynn is prepared to testify that then-candidate Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are haggling over a tax reform plan that would likely drive economic growth in the short-term.

This overshadowed upbeat earnings from another Canadian big bank.

National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) reported a profit for its fourth quarter that beat expectations. The company said its bottom line climbed to C$531 million, or C$1.40 per share. This was higher than C$463 million, or C$1.24 per share, in last year's fourth quarter.

The bank also boosted its dividend.

BCE Inc. (BCE, BCE.TO) announced the upcoming launch of Lucky Mobile, a low-cost prepaid mobile alternative for budget-conscious Canadians with monthly plans starting at just $20.

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