A man dressed as Santa Claus walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last year. ((Shannon Stapleton/Reuters))

Canada's chief export and main stock index were both higher on Thursday as traders headed into a three-day break until Monday.

The TSX was up 25 points to 13,309 at 1 p.m. eastern time when the market closes early. That puts the index up more than two per cent since Monday, and caps the second-straight week where Canada's benchmark stock index gained ground — something that hasn't happened since April.

Trading was soft heading into the Christmas break, as the world's stock, currency and bond markets are all largely closed on Friday and through the weekend for Christmas.

"Falling volatility and trade volume mark the days prior to the Christmas holidays," said Bernard Aw of IG, who noted this time of year traders often wind down their positions before the end of the year.

The TSX's performance was stronger than American markets., with the Dow and S&P 500 both closing in the negative.

Overseas, most European stock markets were closed on Thursday, while the Nikkei, Shanghai and Korea's Kospi stock indexes were all slightly down.

Oil prices rise

The TSX was buoyed by oil prices, which continued their march higher after coming within pennies of their recessionary low last week.

U.S. crude futures gained 53 cents to $38.03 US in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange a day after WTI gained $1.36, or 3.8 per cent, to $37.50 a barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was up 46 cents at $37.82 

North America's oil benchmark of WTI is now more expensive than Brent for the first time since the spring of 2010.

The modest good news for oil was not enough to stop the loonie from inching down 0.04 of a cent to 72.16 cents US.