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Trader Steven Kaplan, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. (Richard Drew/AP)
Trader Steven Kaplan, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. (Richard Drew/AP)

At the open: TSX flat as U.S. jobs data misses forecast Add to ...

The Toronto stock market was little changed Wednesday as an unexpectedly weak report on U.S. private sector job creation raised doubts about the strength of government data coming out on Friday.

Investors also awaited the latest reading on the health of the American services sector.

The S&P/TSX composite index rose 6.53 points to 13,511.01 while the Canadian dollar lost early traction and declined 0.07 of a cent to 90.17 cents (U.S.).

U.S. indexes were negative after payroll firm ADP reported that the private sector created 175,000 jobs during January, about 15,000 short of what was expected.

Economists have estimated a total of about 190,000 jobs were created last month in the United States.

Canadian jobs data also comes out on Friday and economists expect about 20,000 jobs were added.

The Dow Jones industrials declined 35.5 points to 15,409.74, the Nasdaq was down 19.01 points to 4,012.51 while the S&P 500 index eased 6.52 points to 1,748.68.

Meanwhile, traders expected the Institute for Supply Management’s survey of the U.S. non-manufacturing sector to come in at 53.1.

Another ISM survey on manufacturing came in lower than expected on Monday, which sparked a selloff on stock markets, coming as it did just after other data showed the Chinese manufacturing sector still expanding but at a slower pace.

The data also raised questions about whether economic problems in emerging markets could spread to more developed economies.

These negative developments come after the U.S. Federal Reserve has moved twice in the last two months to cut back on its monthly bond purchases, a measure that kept the lid on long-term rates and encouraged traders to put their money in higher yielding securities such as stocks.

Emerging markets benefited from a flood of cheap money. Now, they’re feeling withdrawal pains amid a steady outflow of investment as traders seek safer returns, which in turn has pressured currencies in countries such as India, South Africa and Turkey.

This latest wave of uncertainty has triggered a steep downturn on markets, particularly in the U.S. where the S&P 500 is down almost six per cent from the start of 2014 after surging more than 30 per cent last year.

On the earnings front, Intact Financial Corp. says a major December ice storm in Ontario and Quebec drove down quarterly net operating income to $143-million or $1.05 a share, down 26 per cent from a year ago, missing estimates of $1.49 a share. Intact also announced its dividend will rise nine per cent to 48 cents a share and its shares declined 64 cents to $66.87.

Shares in TMX Group Ltd. rose 78 cents to $50.64 as the operator of the country’s largest stock market had adjusted quarterly earnings of 96 cents per share, up one cent from a year ago and 11 cents above analyst estimates.

Strength on the TSX was mainly concentrated in the gold sector, which rose 1.05 per cent as April bullion futures gained $12 to $1,263.20 (U.S.) an ounce.

The energy sector was ahead 0.25 per cent while March crude in New York gained 52 cents to $97.71 (U.S.) a barrel.

The base metals group was also positive while March copper gained one cent to $3.20 (U.S.) a pound.

Industrials and telecoms led decliners.

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