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A mourner cries at the spot where a man committed suicide at central Syntagma square in Athens
A mourner cries at the spot where a man committed suicide at central Syntagma square in Athens

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Retiree's suicide becomes a symbol of Greece's pain Add to ...

These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, April 5, 2012. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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Suicide note a rallying cry Dimitris Christoulas has become a symbol of Greece's pain.

The public suicide of the Greek pensioner has sparked protests in a country that itself the symbol of the euro zone crisis.

There's now a shrine in Athens to mark the spot near parliament where the 77-year-old former pharmacist shot himself because, he said in a suicide note, his financial woes were too great, Reuters reports today.

"We shouldn’t have reached this point," another retiree, Anastassia Karanika, told the newspaper.

While not much else is known about Mr. Christoulas at this point, his declaration that he'd rather die than scrounge for food is a new rallying cry as the country heads toward its next election, laid low by harsh austerity measures that have led to strikes and demonstrations across the country.

“This suicide highlights how painful and dramatic these cutbacks are for the Greek people," said political science professor Grant Amyot of Queen's University. "They are being forced to endure a massive cut in the standard of living."

One-fifth of the work force is unemployed, and half of the country's young people can't find jobs.

Jobless rate dips Canada's jobs market is finally perking up after months in the doldrums.

The economy created 82,300 jobs in March, The Globe and Mail's Tavia Grant reports, and the unemployment rate dipped to 7.2 per cent from 7.4 per cent.

Notably, most of the hiring gains were in full-time work, and in the private sector, at that, Statistics Canada said. Equally notable is that Ontario, whose outlook has been bleak, gained 46,000 jobs and saw its unemployment rate fall to 7.4 per cent, the lowest in three years. Quebec also notched up hefty gains.

"Canada’s jobs report for March finally broke the string of disappointing readings that we had seen since mid-2011," said Mark Chandler, chief of fixed income and currency research at RBC Dominion Securities.

"The lack of job gains was puzzling in light of estimated output growth over the past three quarters through Q1 (we estimate at 2.75 per cent which really should have produced more jobs. In the event, the bounce in March was both overdue and firm throughout."

It's just one month, but it was a good one.

"Today’s report is an unequivocal positive on the jobs markets," said CIBC World Markets economist Emanuella Enenajor. "The report suggests that after several months of tepid hiring, job growth here is starting to show some signs of renewed life."

Canada has now gained almost 200,000 jobs over the past year, though the last several months have been week. And, in a good sign, most of those jobs were full-time positions.

Even young people gained last month - 39,000 jobs, though their unemployment rate remains at almost 14 per cent.

"Despite the increase in March, the number of youths employed has changed little since July 2009 - the lowest point of the last labour market downturn," Statistics Canada said.

The labour market in the United States has also been improving, highlighted today by another drop in initial claims for jobless benefits. Indeed, noted senior economist Jennifer Lee of BMO Nesbitt Burns, first-time claims in the U.S. are now at their lowest level in four years.

Markets sink The fresh troubles of the euro zone, along with economic jitters elsewhere, continue to haunt global markets today.

The focus of the crisis in the 17-member monetary union turned this week to Spain, and have weighed heavily on the minds of investors for the past couple of days.

"Europe remains a running sore and fears that the problems in the satellite countries are starting to infect the core of Europe are rising after economic data this week pointed to worries about both French and German economic activity," said senior market analyst Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.

The troubles in Europe have also hit the euro and, again, driven up bond yields in some countries.

"The [U.S. dollar]index is stronger for a third straight day this morning, hitting a three-week high," said Benjamin Reitzes of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

"The major currencies are mostly weaker versus the greenback, with the yen the one exception, gaining about 0.75 per cent. The euro is the worst performer, as sovereign debt worries creep back into markets, with Spain the focal point of concern. The euro has lost ground in each of the first four session of the month. Peripheral yields continue to climb - Spain and Italy 10-year yields are up another 12 basis points today, to 5.77 per cent and 5.46 per cent."

Ackman pushes CP shareholders U.S. investor activist Bill Ackman is urging shareholders of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. to back his hedge fund’s alternative slate of directors, The Globe and Mail's Brent Jang and Jacquie McNish report.

Mr. Ackman, chief executive officer at New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management LP, said today that underperforming CP requires much-need improvements.

CP is backing an incumbent team of 15 directors, and recommends Mr. Ackman be the 16th board member.

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