Stock markets pull back despite modest jobs figures in Canada and U.S.

TORONTO – Stock markets in Toronto and New York shied away from making any big moves Friday, as investors appeared lukewarm to the latest jobs figures from both sides of the border.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 29.24 points to 14,566.26, with telecom and utilities stocks being the heaviest weights. The Toronto market is closed on Monday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The loonie was down 0.41 of a cent to 75.27 cents US.

Statistics Canada reported that 67,200 net new jobs were added last month, with the majority of the increase attributed to a gain in part-time and self-employed work.

The national unemployment rate stayed at seven per cent for the second straight month.

A consensus of economists had projected the country to add 10,000 positions and for the jobless rate to stay at seven per cent, according to Thomson Reuters.

“We had a fair bit of moving around in the market already this week,” said Stephen Carlin, managing director and head of equities at CIBC Asset Management. He noted that as being one of the reasons why the TSX didn’t move sharply to the upside.

South of the border, U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs in September, slightly lower than analyst expectations but likely still strong enough for the Federal Reserve to continue with a plan to hike rates sooner rather than later.

The job gain, though modest, suggested that the U.S. economy remains steady if not particularly strong. Wages also rose and are now increasing at a healthier pace than they were earlier in the economic recovery — a trend that may be drawing more people into the job market to look for work.

Carlin said recent polls of market participants believe there is still a 66 per cent chance that the Fed will make a move in December, following the U.S. presidential election.

But there are still global risks that could derail from this plan, including the election results, Bank of Japan and European Central Bank policies, or shocking economic indicators.

“My personal view is that I don’t think the market has factored in a (Donald) Trump victory. The general view is that it will be a tight race but (Hillary) Clinton is the winner,” Carlin said.

“It just adds a layer of uncertainty that the Fed will have to consider.”

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 28.01 points at 18,240.49, the broader S&P 500 composite index dropped 7.03 points to 2,153.74, and the Nasdaq composite lost 14.44 points to 5,292.41.

Commodities were mixed, with the November crude contract falling 63 cents to US$49.81 per barrel and November natural gas up 14 cents to US$3.19 per mmBTU.

The December gold contract dipped $1.10 to $1,251.90 an ounce and December copper contracts rose a penny to US$2.16 a pound.

— With files from The Associated Press

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