North American markets split direction near midday Friday – with Toronto lower and New York higher – as jobs reports in both Canada and the United States came in better than anticipated although neither blew by expectations.
The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 51.15 points to 12,115.51 near midday.
The Canadian dollar was down 0.48 of a cent to 94.57 cents US.
Statistics Canada says the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.1 per cent last month as employers pulled back after a wild month of hiring in May.
The agency says the economy shed a mere 400 jobs in June, a statistically insignificant number, but better than the 12,500 jobs economists had expected would be lost in the hangover from the hiring binge seen in May, when 95,000 new jobs were added.
On Wall Street, the U.S. jobs numbers were better received, raising hopes that the U.S. economy is headed towards a better second half of the year.
The Dow Jones industrials moved 12.02 points higher to 15,000.57, the Nasdaq gained 11.17 points to 3,454.84 and the S&P 500 index ticked up 4.01 points to 1,619.42.
The U.S. Labor Department said American employers added 195,000 jobs in June and hiring was more robust in the two previous months than earlier estimated, suggesting job growth is accelerating.
“There’s still a lot of workers that have part-time work when they want to have full-time, but . . . putting yourself in the shoes of the employer, as long as they can hold off on doing the full-time employment I think they’re going to,” said Jennifer Radman, a portfolio manager with Caldwell Investment Management.
“It’s seems that’s kind of the last thing to fall into place.”
In commodities, the August crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was ahead $1.13 at US$102.37 a barrel.
August gold bullion dropped $36.90 to US$1,215 an ounce on the Nymex.
The TSX info tech sector was down 0.6 per cent as BlackBerry (TSX:BB) shares gained two cents to $10.17. Smartphone competitor Samsung Electronics Co. missed quarterly earnings expectations on Friday as its phone sales started to slow.
Also, Loblaw Companies Limited (TSX:L) began listing its new real estate investment trust today on the TSX. Choice Properties REIT (TSX:CHP.UN) holds 415 retail properties, one office complex and nine warehouse properties totalling 35.3 million square feet of gross leasable area.
Choice Properties was trading at $9.94, down six cents, while Loblaw shares were down 78 cents at $46.70.
In Asia, markets were catching up with the gains in Europe the day before. The rally was trigged by the European Central Bank president Mario Draghi’s statement that interest rates will remain low “for an extended period of time.”
The ECB statement was echoed by the Bank of England and followed indications that the U.S. economy is growing – but probably not fast enough for the U.S. Federal Reserve to rush into tapering off its stimulus program. Markets had been spooked in recent weeks at the prospect of such stimulus ending.
In European trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.7 per cent to 6,380. Germany’s DAX edged down two per cent to 7,837 while France’s CAC-40 slipped 0.9 per cent to 3,775.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 closed up 2.1 per cent to 14,309.97 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.9 per cent to 20,854.67 Elsewhere in Asia, Taipei’s TAIEX jumped 1.4 per cent to 8,001.82 while Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up one per cent to 4,841.70 and China’s Shanghai Composite posted a small gain of 0.1 per cent to 2,007.29.