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A bourse trader drinks champagne after the last trading day at Frankfurt's stock exchange in Frankfurt. (Ralph Orlowski/Reuters)
A bourse trader drinks champagne after the last trading day at Frankfurt's stock exchange in Frankfurt. (Ralph Orlowski/Reuters)

At midday: TSX finds slight lift from U.S. jobs data Add to ...

The Toronto stock market posted modest gains Friday as job creation data in the U.S. came in well above expectations.

The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 25 points at 14,296.92, well off the best levels of the morning as China growth concerns sent copper prices and base metal stocks lower.

The Canadian dollar tumbled 0.73 of a cent to 90.25 cents (U.S.) while other data showed the Canadian economy shed 7,000 jobs last month against the gain of 15,000 that economists had expected.

The Canadian unemployment rate was unchanged at seven per cent.

New York also shed early gains even as the American economy created 175,000 jobs last month, well above expectations for 139,000 job gains. The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 per cent from 6.6 per cent.

The Dow industrials was up 5.33 points to 16,427.22, the Nasdaq dropped 28.51 points to 4,323.61 and the S&P 500 index dropped 4.91 points to 1,872.12.

“It’s good the jobs numbers came in better than expected because people have wondered whether the economy is slowing down or whether it was the weather impact,” said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investment.

“And I think it’s highlighting that the U.S. economy is still moving ahead.”

The energy component climbed 0.75 per cent while the April crude contract in New York was $1.12 higher to $102.68 (U.S.) a barrel.

Penn West Petroleum Ltd. had a quarterly net loss of $728-million or $1.49 a share compared with a year-earlier net loss of $78-million or 16 cents per share. The most recent loss was mostly due to non-cash asset impairment charges related to the company’s disposal of natural gas assets. Penn West shares advanced 25 cents to $8.95.

The metals and mining sector led decliners, down 2.5 per cent as May copper tumbled 12 cents to $3.09 (U.S.) a pound.

Analysts pointed to Chinese authorities allowing the country’s first corporate bond default. Investors in bonds sold in 2012 by Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co., a manufacturer of solar panels, were paid as little as three per cent of the interest that was due Friday.

“Nonperformance by Chaori has now fueled speculation as to how many more companies may be in a similar situation and what negative impact that could have on the economy,” said Edward Meir, commodities consultant with INTL FCStone.

The gold sector fell 1.35 per cent while April bullion fell $16.20 to $1,335.60 an ounce.

Elsewhere, WestJet is cutting its revenue expectations for the first quarter due to softer domestic demand and a larger than expected impact from the Easter and Passover holidays. The airline expects revenue per available seat mile for the first quarter to be flat to down slightly year over year, compared with earlier expectations of it to be flat or up slightly. Westjet gained 26 cents to $25.76.

Markets seemed unperturbed about the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The week start started off with a selloff on markets after Russian troops last weekend invaded Ukraine’s Crimea region, where it has major military installations. But markets regained their footing by the following day as it became apparent that Western countries weren’t planning on an armed response to that incursion.

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