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Bay Street May Open With Negative Bias

Canadian shares look headed for a flat to lower opening on Thursday, tracking weaker crude oil prices Weakness in Asian and European markets.

Worries about the impact of the ongoing U.S. government shutdown may also weigh on sentiment and force investors to tread with caution.

The market will be reacting to data on Canada building permits and house price index for November, due at 8:30 AM ET.

U.S. weekly jobless claims data for the week ended January 5, to be released at 8:30 AM ET, will also make an impact on price movements.

At 10:00 AM ET, data on U.S. wholesale sales and inventories, both for the month of November, are due for release.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump walked out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., indicated she remains opposed to providing funding for a controversial wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Trump claimed in a post on Twitter that he left the meeting after Pelosi said she would still not support funding the wall if he agreed to reopen the government. Trump said the meeting was "a total waste of time."

On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index ended up 199.58 points, or 1.37%, at 14,804.73, slightly off the day's high of 14,811.13.

In company news, Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED.TO) said the company is preparing to enter the U.S. hemp market following the passage of the U.S. 2018 Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp production in the U.S. Canopy announced on Wednesday that it started to add strategic hemp assets to its portfolio in 2016, focused on consumer-packaged goods and that it began investing in field-scale operations in late 2017 in order to vertically integrate its hemp business to mirror its existing cannabis business.

Marijuana producer CannTrust Holdings Inc. (TRST.TO) announced that it has applied to list its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

Aritzia Inc. (ATZ.TO) announced on Wednesday that its net profit for the third quarter rose more than 16% to $32.6 million, from $28.1 million in the year-ago quarter.

Ensign Energy Services Inc. (ESI.TO) and Trinidad Drilling Ltd. (TDG.TO) announced today that Trinidad has entered into an amalgamation agreement with Ensign Holdings Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ensign, under which Trinidad will amalgamate with Holdings. The amalgamated entity will be an wholly-owned subsidiary of Ensign.

Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday after trade negotiations between American and Chinese officials ended in Beijing without significant breakthroughs. However, China said meetings were 'extensive, in-depth and detailed,' without offering specifics.

European stocks were moving lower today as traders refrained from making fresh purchases after optimism about a U.S.-China deal faded a bit. Uncertainty about Brexit and the Fed's future path of interest rate increases too contributed to the decline.

The U.K. Parliament agreed Wednesday that the government must come up with a new Brexit plan within three days if Prime Minister Theresa May's current proposal is voted down.

In economic news from Europe, France's industrial production declined in November, defying expectations for a modest increase, preliminary data from the statistical office INSEE showed. Industrial production decreased a seasonally and working-day adjusted 1.3%, reversing a similar size increase in the previous month. Economists had expected production to remain unchanged.

The minutes of the European Central Bank's December meeting noted that members suggested assessing the TLTRO impact on policy stance. The council also said that risks were alternating within an uncertain environment while risks to the economic activity in the region pointed downwards.

In commodities, crude oil futures for February were down $0.30, or 0.57%, at $52.06, taking a breather after eight successive days of gains.

Natural gas futures for February were up $0.053, or 1.78%, at $3.037 per million btu.

Gold futures for February were rising $2.40, or 0.19%, at $1,294.40 an ounce.

Silver futures for March were up $0.023, or 0.15%, at $15.758 an ounce, while Copper futures for March were down $0.010, or 0.37%, at $2.647 per pound.

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