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U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq at the State Dining Room of the White House on Aug. 7, 2014. (LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS)
U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement about the humanitarian relief situation in Iraq at the State Dining Room of the White House on Aug. 7, 2014. (LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS)

At midday: TSX up slightly despite geopolitical worries Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was slightly higher Friday morning with traders wary amid a number of geopolitical flashpoints.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 10.05 points to 15,128.48.

The Canadian dollar dropped 0.47 of a cent to 91.1 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.

Why Manulife's dividend boost is a welcome surprise (The Globe and Mail)

U.S. indexes advanced with the Dow industrials up 60.91 points to 16,429.18, the Nasdaq gained 11.31 points to 4,346.27 and the S&P 500 index edged up 7.29 points to 1,916.86.

Geopolitical worries helped push stock markets lower this past week.

“I think geopolitical concerns are absolutely back in the spotlight and the focus is mainly on Russia and on Iraq at the same time,” said Jean-Francois Dion, portfolio advisor at RBC Dominion Securities’ wealth management division.

The Russia/Ukraine standoff is 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.

“It is a primary concern and how long these sanctions stay in place will certainly determine the impact on the region, which is already very fragile and a struggle to regain any sort of momentum over the past few quarters or so,” added Dion.

Adding to market jitters going into the weekend was Iraq, where American warplanes bombed Islamic militants.

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.

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 1.2 per cent as gold prices added slightly to two days of gains with the December bullion contract in New York 80 cents higher to $1,311.60 (U.S.) an ounce.

Elsewhere on the commodity markets, September crude in New York gained 22 cents to $97.56 a barrel and the energy sector rose 0.55 per cent.

August copper was unchanged at $3.18 a pound and the base metals sector was ahead 0.4 per cent.

Financials were the biggest decliner, down 0.45 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 (Canadian) during the quarter, equal to $2.32 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 $4.36 to $119.55.

Engineering consulting and construction firm SNC-Lavalin posted a quarterly profit of $32.1-million or 21 cents a share, down from $37.7-million or 25 cents a year ago. Adjusted earnings were 38 cents a share, well below the 63 cents that analysts had forecast and its shares fell $2.08 to $56.54.

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