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Equities

Canada’s main stock index edged higher in early trading Friday, helped by firmer commodities prices. On Wall Street, key indexes were in the red after a weaker-than-expected reading on U.S. hiring in August raised questions about the strength of the economic rebound.

At 9:32 a.m. ET, the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 19.11 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 20,814.23. The index closed Thursday’s session at a record high.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 42.09 points, or 0.12 per cent, at the open to 35,401.73.

The S&P 500 opened lower by 4.53 points, or 0.10 per cent, at 4,532.42, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 17.76 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 15,313.42 at the opening bell.

Markets in Canada and the United States are closed Monday for the Labour Day holiday.

Friday’s session saw the release of August U.S. nonfarm payroll figures ahead of the opening bell. Canada’s employment report for the month is due next Friday.

The U.S. Labor Department said nonfarm payrolls rose by 235,000 positions in August, far fewer that economists had been expecting. July’s increase was revised higher to 1.053 million. Although forecasts varied widely, many economist were looking for a number as high as 750,000 positions in the August report.

Investors were closely watching the numbers, looking for a hint about how quickly the Federal Reserve will start withdrawing stimulus from the economy.

“This disappointing report will make it a closer call than we expected for a September tapering announcement from the Fed,” CIBC senior economist Katherine Judge said.

In this country, investors got another reading on the state of the housing market. The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board reported that home sales in the city fell 20 per cent in August from year-earlier levels, although a decline in listings to their lowest level in a decade pushed prices higher. TRREB says listings fell 43 per cent from the same month last year, lifting prices 12.6 per cent.

Overseas, the pan-European STOXX 600 was just below break even at midday. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 0.15 per cent. Germany’s DAX added 0.04 per cent while France’s CAC 40 lost 0.54 per cent.

In Asia, Japan’ Nikkei jumped 2.05 per cent after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Friday he would step down. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended down 0.72 per cent.

Commodities

Crude prices were mixed but looked set for a weekly gain after previous session’s strong advance.

The day range on Brent is US$72.72 to US$73.37. The range on West Texas Intermediate is US$69.58 to US$70.09. Both benchmarks added about 2 per cent on Thursday, helped by a drop in weekly U.S. inventories and a softer U.S. dollar.

WTI looked set for a weekly gain of 1.8 per cent while Brent was headed for an advance of 0.6 per cent for the week.

“Crude prices seem to have only one-way to go due to the short-term impact from [hurricane] Ida and when you factor in the oil market will remain in deficit as OPEC+ steadily eases production curbs,” OANDA senior analyst Ed Moya said in a note.

In other commodities, gold prices rose on Friday, helped by a weaker U.S. dollar.

Spot gold rose 0.2 per cent to US$1,812.97 per ounce, and was down 0.2 per cent for the week.

U.S. gold futures were also up 0.2 per cent at US$1,814.80.

Currencies

The Canadian dollar held steady as its U.S. counterpart lingered near one-month lows.

The day range on the loonie is 79.62 US cents to 79.81 US cents.

“The confluence of the highly-anticipated U.S. jobs report today and the holiday on Monday could trigger volatile price action if the data were to surprise materially,” Alvin Tan, Asia FX strategist with RBC, said.

There were no major Canadian economic releases due Friday. Investors will get the Bank of Canada’s next policy release on Sept. 8.

On world markets, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against six peers, was little changed at 92.227 after earlier touching 92.151 for the first time since Aug. 5, according to figures from Reuters.

The euro was also mostly flat at US$1.1876, after hitting the highest since Aug. 4 at $1.1884.

The U.S. dollar added 0.1 per cent to 110.03 yen, sitting near the midpoint of its trading range since early July and showing little reaction to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s decision to step down at the end of the month.

More company news

The city of Beijing is considering taking Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Global, which is facing a cybersecurity investigation, under state control, Bloomberg News reported. The Beijing city government has proposed making an investment in Didi, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. Under the preliminary proposal, some Beijing-based companies would acquire a stake in Didi, said the report, adding that it remains unclear how large a stake the Beijing city government is considering taking.

Enbridge said its LaRose compressor station in southern Louisiana suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Ida and that it was still working to access its facilities in Venice, Louisiana. Enbridge’s LaRose station is not currently critical to its operations, a spokesperson said. Production also remained shut at its offshore facilities, the company said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) barred Virgin Galactic from flying its SpaceShipTwo until the agency approves its final mishap investigation report from its July flight or determines the issues do not affect public safety. The FAA confirmed on Wednesday it was investigating a deviation in the descent of the flight of the Virgin Galactic rocket plane that carried British billionaire Richard Branson to the edge of space on July 11. The FAA, responsible for protecting the public during commercial space transportation launch and reentry, said “SpaceShipTwo deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance as it returned to Spaceport America” in New Mexico.

Economic news

(830 am ET) Canada labour productivity for the second quarter.

(830 am ET) U.S. nonfarm payrolls.

(945 am ET) U.S. Markit Services and Composite PMI.

(10 am ET) U.S. ISM Services PMI.

With Reuters and The Canadian Press

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