TORONTO - North American stock markets moved higher Friday after a surprise improvement in the U.S. jobless rate helped the Dow Jones industrials climb to new highs.
Toronto's S&P/TSX composite index closed 58.39 points higher at 12,438.03.
The gains came after the U.S. Labor Department said employers added 165,000 jobs in April, while both February and March numbers were also better than first thought. The combination trimmed the U.S. unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 per cent.
After the jobs report, the Dow crossed 15,000 for the first time and the Standard and Poor's 500 index, a broader market measure, broke through 1,600. Both pulled back from their highs of the day, but still closed at new records.
On Wall Street, the Dow was up 142.38 points at 14,973.96, after rising about 15,000 earlier in the session. The Nasdaq rose 38.01 points to 3,378.63 and the S&P 500 index gained 16.83 points to 1,614.42.
The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.05 of a cent at 99.23 cents US.
In commodities, the June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $1.62 to US$95.61 a barrel.
TSX base metals stocks led the market up 2.8 per cent as July copper gained 21 cents to US$3.31 a pound. June gold bullion was off $3.40 at US$1,464.20 an ounce.
Portfolio manager Adrian Mastracci of KCM Wealth Management said the job numbers are encouraging, but there's "still a long way to go" before a full recovery.
"At this time in an aftermath, we need about 250,000 to 300,000 jobs a month," he said.
"I'm hoping we'll get them soon, but we're not there yet. It's a positive sign today, but you've still got to be a little bit cautious because I don't think we're there yet."
BlackBerry (TSX:BB) users were hit with yet another a service outage on Friday morning, though the company did not say how widespread the problem was or how many users were affected, and representatives for the company would not confirm any details.
Shares of BlackBerry fell six cents to $15.77, after spending most of the day higher. The company's stock initially rose after it said the U.S. Department of Defence approved its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones and PlayBook tablets for use on its networks, a key security approval for the technology company.
The TSX information technology sector fell 0.4 per cent.
In earnings, Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) says it narrowed its net loss to $260 million or 95 cents per diluted share in the first quarter. That was down from a net loss of $274 million or 99 cents per share in the same 2012 quarter. Air Canada shares fell 18 cents to $2.70.
Rona Inc. (TSX:RON) has hired Alain Brisebois, a 30-year veteran of the retail industry who previously worked at Alimentation Couche-Tard, to be its chief commercial officer and senior vice-president of operations. Shares rose 23 cents to $10.38.
European markets also fed off the soaring U.S. markets after gains had been limited earlier in the day when the European Union downgraded its economic forecast for the region. In its spring update, the EU said it expected the 17-country eurozone's economy to shrink 0.4 per cent this year, 0.1 percentage points worse than its February prediction.