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TSX closes flat amid fears

The Toronto stock market closed with little changed on Monday as buyers were content to sit on the sidelines amid skepticism that an agreement can be reached to avoid the U.S. falling over the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year.

However, the market found some lift from corporate developments in the tech, resource and retail groups.

The S&P/TSX composite index was 5.34 points lower to 12,191.46 while the TSX Venture Exchange gained 4.54 points to 1,305.46.

Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) rose 2.9 per cent to $8.81 as it said it will officially launch the final version of its long-awaited new BlackBerry 10 operating system and smartphone hardware on Jan. 30. The company will also unveil the first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones. But it's not known when the new devices will be available to consumers.

Leon's Furniture Ltd. (TSX: LNF) is offering to buy The Brick Ltd. (TSX: BRK) in a deal the company values at $700 million. Leon's will pay $5.40 per share in either cash or debentures. Brick shares surged 52 per cent to $5.32 while Leon's shares edged up 23 cents to $11.80.

And Osisko Mining Corp. (TSX:OSK) is buying Queenston Mining Inc. (TSX:QMI) in an all-stock deal valued at $550 million. Queenston owns gold properties in the Kirkland Lake gold camp area as well as interests in Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario. Queenston shares jumped 74 cents or 14.8 per cent to $5.75 while Osisko Mining dipped 80 cents or 8.15 per cent to $9.02 on dilution concerns.

The Canadian dollar wasn't trading in Canada on Monday as banks were closed in observance of Remembrance Day. The currency was up 0.17 of a cent to 100.04 cents US from Friday's close on international markets in late-afternoon trading.

U.S. markets were also lacklustre as the Dow Jones industrials dipped 0.23 of a point to 12,815.16, the Nasdaq was off 0.62 of a point to 2,904.25 while the S&P 500 index was ahead 0.15 of a point at 1,380.

The fiscal cliff label refers to a string of tax increases and steep spending cuts aimed at reducing the U.S. deficit and are set to automatically kick in at the first of the year.

If they are allowed to take full effect, the cuts and tax increases will total at least half a trillion dollars and take a big chunk out of GDP in 2013. Failure to come up with a compromise would likely tip the U.S. back into recession and drag down other economies with it.

The Canadian Press

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