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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange May 8, 2013. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange May 8, 2013. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

The close: Markets down amid U.S. employment optimism Add to ...

North American markets lost some ground even though the U.S. reported rosier-than-expected unemployment insurance numbers, a possible sign that the world’s largest economy may be continuing with its recovery.

The S&P/TSX composite index was down 41.15 points to 12,543.90.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.41 of a cent at 99.26 cents (U.S.).

The U.S. Department of Labor said jobless claims dropped by 4,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, indicating that there may be more hiring as the number of layoffs return to pre-recession levels. Economists had expected a slight uptick to 358,000. The department said the four-week average of 336,750 is the lowest it’s been in more than five years.

Despite the positive news, there was little reaction on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrials dropped 22.50 points to 15,082.62 after it closed above 15,000 for the first time earlier this week. The Nasdaq dipped 4.10 points to 3,409.17 while the S&P 500 index was declined 6.02 points to 1,626.67.

Commodities were also down as the June crude contract declined 23 cents to $96.39 (U.S.) a barrel. June gold bullion dropped $5.10 to $1,468.60 (U.S.) an ounce, after having closed up nearly $25 on Wednesday, while July copper was down three cents to $3.34 (U.S.) a pound.

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