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PAUL HACKETT Caption: A trader checks screen data at the IG Index trading floor in London (Paul Hackett/Reuters)

PAUL HACKETT Caption: A trader checks screen data at the IG Index trading floor in London

(Paul Hackett/Reuters)

At midday: Stocks struggle as commodities decline Add to ...

North American stocks were down slightly in midday trading on Friday, with sliding commodity prices outweighing a stronger-than-expected payrolls report from the U.S. Labor Department.

Shortly after noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 29 points or 0.2 per cent, to 13,204. The broader S&P 500 was down 1 point or 0.1 per cent, to 1426. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 67 points or 0.5 per cent, to 12,432.

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The moves follow an upbeat report of payrolls in October. U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs last month, topping estimates for job gains of 125,000. Although the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent, the gain was due to more people looking for work. As well, September’s payrolls report – also seen as good news when it was released a month ago – was revised higher.

The news hammered the price of gold, with investors betting that good news for the economy might mean less stimulus from the Federal Reserve. Gold fell to $1,681.75 (U.S.) an ounce, down $32.50 – marking its sharpest one-day dip since June.

Materials stocks were among the hardest hit in both Canadian and U.S. benchmark indexes. In Canada, materials fell 2.1 per cent and within the S&P 500 they fell 1.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, crude oil also declined – to $85.38 a barrel, down $1.71. Chevron Corp. fell 2.2 per cent, coinciding with its quarterly report showing earnings down 33 per cent over last year, due to lower production.

Among other commodity producers, Alcoa Inc. fell 1 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 2.4 per cent.

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