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U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornet jet flies over the Philippines in April, 2013. Two F/A-18s have launched the United States’ first air strikes in Iraq since 2011, the Pentagon said on Aug. 8, 2014. (BULLIT MARQUEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
U.S. Marine F/A-18 Hornet jet flies over the Philippines in April, 2013. Two F/A-18s have launched the United States’ first air strikes in Iraq since 2011, the Pentagon said on Aug. 8, 2014. (BULLIT MARQUEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

At the open: TSX flat amid Iraq, Russia tensions Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was little changed Friday with traders wary amid a number of geopolitical flashpoints, including Iraq where American warplanes bombed Islamic militants.

The S&P/TSX composite index added 2.47 points to 15,120.9.

The airstrike came after President Barack Obama on Thursday authorized U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, warning they would be launched to defend American troops and civilians under siege from Islamic State militants.

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The Canadian dollar dropped 0.42 of a cent to 91.15 cents (U.S.) as Statistics Canada reported that the economy created a paltry 200 jobs during July. Economists had generally expected that 20,000 jobs would be created.

U.S. indexes were also tepid with the Dow industrials up 7.51 points to 16,375.78, the Nasdaq slipped 0.64 of a point to 4,334.33 and the S&P 500 index edged up 1.08 points to 1,910.65.

Geopolitical worries helped push stock markets lower this past week. The Russia/Ukraine standoff was been the primary focus for investor worry as traders considered the odds of Russia invading its neighbour in order to prop up Ukrainian rebels. There is also concern about how sanctions and countersanctions could derail a still-fragile economic recovery in Europe.

Barclays Research also noted that there are “fears that Russia may widen its ban on agricultural imports to include the car, shipping, and aerospace sectors” after announcing a ban in food imports from the West.

On top of this, there was a breakdown in the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Investors looking for safety bought into U.S. Treasuries and the yield on the benchmark 10-year bond stood at 2.38 per cent, down from 2.43 per cent late Thursday, which was already the lowest level of the year.

The TSX gold sector ran ahead 0.8 per cent as nervous traders pushed gold prices higher for a third session with the December bullion contract in New York up $1.20 to $1,313.70 (U.S.) an ounce.

Elsewhere on the commodity markets, September crude in New York gained 32 cents to $97.66 a barrel and the energy sector rose 0.25 per cent.

August copper was unchanged at $3.18 a pound and the base metals sector was also ahead 0.25 per cent.

It has also been a heavy week for Canadian corporate earnings, which have been generally positive.

On Friday, auto parts giant Magna International Inc. says net income rose to $510-million during the quarter, equal to $2.32 (Canadian) per diluted share, up from $415-million, or $1.78 per diluted share, a year ago. Sales increased six per cent to a record $9.46-billion. The company also boosted its sale forecast for the year to a range of $35.6-billion to $37.3-billion from previous guidance of $34.9-billion to $36.6-billion and its shares gained $3.49 to $118.68.

In other corporate developments, Chip Wilson, the founder and largest shareholder of Lululemon Athletica, has sold half of his almost 28 per cent stake in the yoga-wear retailer for $845-million (U.S.) to private equity firm Advent International. The deal gives Advent two seats on the board, with one of them becoming co-chairman. Wilson is already a board member. Its shares climbed 66 cents to $39.69.

There didn’t seem to be much reaction to positive Chinese data. Exports jumped 14.5 per cent from a year earlier, double June’s 7.2 per cent growth, customs data showed Friday. However, imports fell 1.6 per cent, down from the previous month’s 5.5 per cent expansion.

The decline in July imports exceeded analyst forecasts and was a sign domestic economic activity might be weakening.

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