*TSX ends short pre-Christmas session little changed
*Weaker commodities weigh
*Economic data in U.S., Canada better than expected (Adds comments, details)
By Wojtek Dabrowski
TORONTO, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Toronto’s main stock index ended a shortened pre-Christmas session on flat note on Wednesday as lower commodity prices overshadowed better than expected economic data from both Canada and the United States.
Four of the market’s 10 main subgroups finished lower, including the key energy and materials sectors, which dropped 0.43 percent and 0.95 percent, respectively.
Oil and gold prices fell in thin trade, as bullion shrugged off a weaker U.S. dollar and crude fell on continuing worries over demand.
The Toronto market closed at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) ahead of Christmas Day.
Data on Wednesday showed Canada’s gross domestic product shrank in October on declines in wholesale trade and manufacturing, paving the way for a widely expected recession. And in the United States, a flurry of figures showed the economy continues to struggle.
“The fall in (Canada‘s) GDP in October is smaller than was expected,” said Gavin Graham, director of investments at BMO Asset Management. “And the numbers in the States, although they were bad, they were perhaps not as bad as anticipated.”
The day’s gainers included Manitoba Telecom MBT.TO, which added 3.05 percent to end at C$33.80, and Shoppers Drug Mart SC.TO, which rose 1.6 percent to C$45.40.
Losers included Potash Corp (POT.TO), which slid 1.8 percent to end at C$81.70, and Interoil Corp IOL.TO, which fell 8.1 percent to C$12.51.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE edged down 1.36 points, or 0.02 percent, to finish at 8,310.55.
Levente Mady, a broker at MF Global Canada in Vancouver, said he remains cautiously optimistic about a yearend rally on the Toronto market despite continuing economic weakness.
“I‘m kind of hoping that we get a little bit of a boost sort of heading into next year,” he said. “I don’t have a strong, strong conviction, but I think the potential is there to just do somewhat better here.”
In the United States, the short trading day ended on an upswing, as the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 48.99 points, or 0.58 percent, to end at 8,468.48. The tech-heavy Nasdaq ended 0.22 percent higher at 1,524.90.
$1=$1.21 Canadian Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway