Stock markets fail to net gains from better than expected U.S. jobs data

TORONTO – Stock markets failed to find lift from data that suggested the American economic recovery is on track as nervousness about the outcome of the U.S. election trumped a better-than-expected jobs report.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 119.34 points at 12,380.41, while other data showed Canadian job growth slowed more than anticipated. The TSX Venture Exchange slipped 11.26 points to 1,310.03.

The Canadian dollar was up 0.12 of a cent to 100.44 cents US as Statistics Canada reported that the economy added just 1,800 jobs last month while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.4 per cent.

New York indexes also fell after the U.S. Labor Department said the American economy cranked out 170,000 jobs in October, higher than the 125,000 that had been expected, although the unemployment rate inched up 0.1 of a point to 7.9 per cent.

The U.S. numbers for August and September were also revised upward to show an additional 84,000 jobs were created.

A sharply rising American dollar also contributed to the Dow Jones industrials losing 139.46 points to 13,093.16, the Nasdaq fell 37.93 points to 2,982.13 and the S&P 500 index shed 13.39 points to 1,414.2.

Analysts suggested that worries about the outcome of Tuesday’s U.S. election left buyers disinclined to do much in the wake of the jobs report.

“That’s still up for grabs,” said Colin Cieszynski, market analyst at CMC Markets Canada, who noted that there are also worries that there may not be a clear-cut winner the morning after the election.

“That’s a bigger concern at this point because that sends everything into disarray right when you have that whole fiscal cliff going on too. That’s all you need, is to have nobody in charge.”

The “fiscal cliff” refers to a variety of tax hikes and massive budget reductions that will come into effect at the end of December unless Republicans and Democrats can come together with an alternative budget plan. Economists warn such a shock could send the economy back into recession.

The Toronto markets chalked up a rise of 0.65 per cent last week in the wake of positive Canadian earnings reports. New York markets were slightly lower despite other strong U.S. economic data, including consumer confidence at the best level in almost five years, data showing expansion in the U.S. and Chinese manufacturing sectors.

TSX losses Friday were led by falling gold stocks as the strong U.S. jobs numbers sent the greenback higher and helped depress bullion prices. The gold sector was down almost 4.5 per cent as December bullion fell $40.30 to US$1,675.20 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) gave back $2.27 to C$42.91 while Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) lost $1.33 to $35.23.

The energy sector was off 1.47 per cent with the December crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange down $2.23 at US$84.86 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) declined 48 cents to C$29.84 while Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE) fell $1.13 to $34.45.

The base metals sector was slightly lower while December copper was seven cents lower at US$3.48 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) shed 55 cents to $33.03.

Shares in Inmet Mining Corp. (TSX:IMN) were up $3.56 to $56.17 as it reported that third-quarter net income grew 19 per cent to $116.2 million as copper production and prices improved. Sales grew 29 per cent to $327.2 million compared to $253.4 million in the year-ago period.

The financials sector was the strongest advancer as Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) ran ahead 20 cents to $12.56 while TD Bank (TSX:TD) rose 56 cents to $82.29.

In other corporate news, net income at construction and engineering company SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (TSX:SNC) dropped to $114.9 million or 76 cents per diluted share, down from $127.6 million or 82 cents per share in the third quarter of 2011. Its revenue increased, however, to $1.98 billion from $1.78 billion.

The revenue was in line with expectations while SNC’s profit didn’t dip as much as anticipated and its shares gained $1.89 to $42.17.

Canada’s largest publicly traded drug maker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (TSX:VRX) reported Friday that its quarterly net income fell to just US$7.6 million or two cents per diluted share, compared with US$40.9 million or 13 cents a year ago amid acquisition and other costs. Revenue soared to US$884.1 million from US$570.4 million. Adjusted income was $357.5 million, or $1.15 per diluted share, three cents ahead of estimates but its shares dipped 33 cents to $56.20.

Hudson’s Bay Co. says preliminary results suggest its third quarter revenues were up 3.8 per cent from the same time last year to $930.4 million but its margins were squeezed by shortages and seasonal clearance markdowns. The information was contained in a revised prospectus filed as part of HBC’s plans to return to the public stock market.

Resolute Forest Products (TSX:RFP), the company formerly known as AbitibiBowater, earned net income of US$31 million or 32 cents per diluted share on sales of US$1.2 billion in the latest quarter. That compared with a net loss of US$44 million, or 46 cents per share, on sales of $1.2 billion in the third quarter of 2011. Its shares fell 52 cents to $11.98.

Traders also took in poor manufacturing figures for the 17-country eurozone.

The October purchasing managers index, a gauge of business activity, fell to 45.4 in October from 46.1 in September. Anything below 50 indicates a contraction in activity. Particularly worrying was that most of the euro countries are seeing their manufacturing sectors contract, including Germany and France.