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At the open: Miners pull TSX lower while U.S. indexes climb

In this May 23, 2013 photo, mining trucks sit parked on the facilities at the Barrick Gold Corp.'s Pascua-Lama project facilities in northern Chile.

Jorge Saenz/AP

Mining stocks pushed the Toronto stock market lower Friday with the TSX failing to find lift from stronger-than-expected Canadian and American employment data for May.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 90.4 points to 12,318.93, with the gold sector providing the biggest drag, followed by base metal producers.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.58 of a cent to 98.05 cents (U.S.) as Statistics Canada reported 95,000 jobs were created in May, most of them full-time positions. Also, the unemployment rate moved down to 7.1 per cent from 7.2 per cent.

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Economists had expected job creation somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15,000 last month.

U.S. indexes were higher as traders also took in a stronger-than expected read on American employment last month.

The U.S. Labour Department said that 175,000 jobs were created during May.

The expectation had been for the economy to have cranked out about 165,000 jobs during May.

But analysts had worried that modest expectation for U.S. employment growth was doubtful after disappointing reads on private sector hiring from payroll firm ADP and the employment component of the Institute for Supply Management's index on the U.S. non-manufacturing sector.

The Dow Jones industrials gained 59.97 points to 15,100.59, the Nasdaq composite index was ahead 9.42 points to 3,433.48 while the S&P 500 index rose 6.19 points to 1,628.75.

It is hard to say how reaction to the jobs data will play out during the session.

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Markets have been volatile recently on concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve could start to taper its economic stimulus program involving bond purchases. That quantitative easing program has kept interest rates low and also helped fuel a strong rally on stock markets this year, leaving the Dow industrials up a good 15 per cent year to date.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has said the U.S. central bank might pull back on its $85-billion-a-month bond-buying program if economic data, especially hiring, improves significantly. Other Fed officials have spoken about a winding down of asset purchases sooner.

While the Fed's quantitative easing program has of huge benefit to U.S. markets, the TSX continues to labour under falling gold prices and demand concerns for oil and metals, leaving the main index down a good 100 points so far this year.

The gold sector was the biggest TSX drag Friday morning, down 3.6 per cent as August gold declined $25.40 to $1,390.40 (U.S.) an ounce. Barrick Gold Corp. lost 70 cents to $20.97 (Cdn).

The base metal group was down 1.76 per cent while copper fell four cents at $3.28 (U.S.) a pound and sector heavyweight Teck Resources gave back 77 cents to $25.99 (Cdn).

July crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange down 32 cents to $94.44 (U.S.) a barrel, bringing the energy sector down 0.8 per cent. Suncor Energy lost 32 cents to $31.24 (Cdn).

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Losses spread across all sectors, save for modest gains in utilities and tech stocks.

European bourses turned higher following the release of the American jobs data with London's FTSE 100 index ahead 0.34 per cent while Frankfurt's DAX was up 0.46 per cent as Germany's central bank lowered its growth forecast for this year but said a recovery had already started, as evidenced by a rise in export and industry figures in Europe's largest economy.

The Bundesbank now expects the economy to grow by only 0.3 per cent in 2013, down from its December forecast of 0.4 per cent. But it noted that the economy is already showing signs of recovery, which it said would lead to robust economic expansion in 2014.

The Paris CAC 40 added 0.37 per cent.

Earlier, in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.2 per cent after the yen climbed against the dollar. That pummelled Japan's exporters, which generally welcome a weaker currency to make products more competitive overseas.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.2 per cent, South Korea's Kospi lost 1.8 per cent while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.9 per cent.

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