TORONTO - The Toronto stock market appeared ready to move lower in early trading Thursday as key commodity prices backtracked alongside a busy day for economic data in the United States.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.22 of a cent to 101.77 cents US.

Crude oil prices for January were off 51 cents to US$86.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Copper prices also moved down with the March contract on the Nymex falling 5.5 cents to US$3.71 a pound.

February gold bullion dropped $22.30 to US$1,695.60 an ounce.

In U.S. economic data, the Commerce Department said Americans spent more on autos, electronics and building supplies in November, pushing retail sales up 0.3 per cent in last month. That offsets a 0.3 per cent decline in October.

And the U.S. Labour Department said fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the fourth straight weekly decline. The seasonally adjusted figure of 343,000 was the lowest level in two months and the second-lowest total this year.

On Wall Street, Dow Jones industrial futures are were up five points to 13,235. The broader S&P futures fell 1.3 points to 1,425.90 and Nasdaq futures were up 0.25 points at 2,670.50.

In Europe, markets barely reacted to news that European Union finance ministers had agreed to create a banking supervisor and that Greece had finally been approved to get more bailout cash to avoid bankruptcy. The euro was down 0.1 per cent at $1.3060.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.2 per cent at 5,931 while Germany's DAX fell 0.3 per cent to 7,594. The CAC-40 in France was 0.3 per cent lower at 3,637.

Earlier in Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.7 per cent to close at 9,742.73 — an eight-month high — as the yen remained weak against the dollar, a boost for Japan's export-reliant economy. The dollar was up a further 0.2 per cent at 83.44 yen.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed earlier gains to close 0.3 per cent lower at 22,445.50 while South Korea's Kospi rallied 1.4 per cent to 2,002.77.