BUSINESS

Toronto stock market ends lower weakened commodities, jobs numbers

10/05/2012 09:08 EDT | Updated 12/05/2012 05:12 EST
TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed lower on Friday as commodities weakened and the shine wore off jobs reports from both the U.S. and Canada.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 28.69 points to 12,418.99 — up 0.8 per cent from where it closed last Friday. The TSX Venture Exchange was up 4.13 points at 1,344.98.

Stocks lost the momentum that was built up in the morning, particularly on Wall Street, after the U.S. government reported that the country's unemployment rate fell below eight per cent for the first time since January 2009, while hiring increased to 114,000 jobs in September.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.17 of a cent to 102.16 cents US, adding slightly to a gain of more than seven-tenths of a cent earlier in the day.

In Canada, the jobs data was mixed with the unemployment rate rising one-tenth of a point to 7.4 per cent in September even as the economy added 52,100 jobs — five times the number expected.

The report was well received by many economists given the signs of weakness that permeate the Canadian economy, but BMO Financial Group chief economist Sherry Cooper warned that the outlook for the country is still clouded.

"The Canadian economy might not be as close to full-employment as we think," she wrote in a note.

"With an overvalued currency, tightened credit conditions and the prospect of higher interest rates, the economy could be vulnerable to a further slowdown from the under two per cent pace recorded so far this year."

Despite the mixed day, the Dow managed to reach a milestone: its highest close since December 2007. The Dow Jones industrials moved 34.79 points higher to 13,610.15, an increase of 1.3 per cent from a week earlier. The Nasdaq composite index lost 13.27 points to 3,136.19 and the S&P 500 index dropped 0.47 of a point to 1,460.93.

"The magnitude of improvement has been pretty material," said Monika Skiba, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

"We're starting to see some signs that the three rounds of quantitative easing have sort of helped at least the U.S. to muddle through."

The TSX energy sector fell 0.8 per cent. November crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped $1.83 to end at US$89.88 a barrel, a decline of 2.5 per cent from a week ago.

Traders have been trying to gauge the strength of global oil demand while also watching developments surrounding Syria for any signs of a disruption in supplies from the Middle East.

December gold bullion dropped $15.70 to US$1,780.80 an ounce, closing at its lowest levels of the week. December copper was down 0.8 of a cent at US$3.78 a pound.

The TSX industrials sector increased 0.5 per cent with Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP) rising $1.49 to $86.98.

In corporate news, Ottawa is extending its review of a proposed $6-billion takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp. (TSX:PRQ) by Malaysia's Petronas to Oct. 19. The deal faces the key "net benefit" test under the Investment Canada Act. Progress shares were up six cents to $21.85.

And the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.73 per cent from 1.68 per cent as investors shifted money from bonds into stocks.