Linda Nguyen, The Canadian Press
TORONTO - The Toronto stock market was up slightly amid the latest job data from Statistics Canada coming in slightly below expectations and a continuing retreat in commodity prices.
The S&P/TSX composite index was jumped 19.77 points to 12,563.67, while the Canadian dollar lost 0.38 of a cent to 98.88 cents US.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials index registered a drop of 3.84 points to 15,078.78, while the Nasdaq climbed 21.24 points to 3,430.41 and the S&P 500 gained 2.61 points to 1,629.28.
Statistics Canada reported that the unemployment rate was unchanged for April at 7.2 per cent, as the economy added 12,500 new jobs.
The pickup last month helped take the sting out of March's massive 54,500 contraction, but was not enough to put job creation on the positive side of the ledger for 2013 as a whole. Analysts had expected an addition of 15,000 jobs.
But the report was better in the details, as there were 36,000 full-time workers added in April, although most of those were in the public sector. The month saw a loss of 23,600 part-time jobs.
The figures weren't a significant miss, but Kevin Headland of Manulife Asset Management says they may signal a downward trend for the Canadian economy.
"If we start seeing continuously negative numbers come out on a trend basis in Canada, that's a big overall risk to the Canadian economy," said Headland, director of Manulife's portfolio advisory group.
"When you think about the over-indebted consumer... the risk of the housing market, and if jobs creep in, and start becoming a risk, people will be less likely to spend when they're worried about losing their jobs."
Meanwhile, the decline in commodity prices continued.
The June crude oil contract declined 34 cents to US$96.05 a barrel. July copper was down a penny at US$3.35 a pound.
The TSX was mixed for most of the day, with the technology sector the leading advancer, gaining by 1.13 per cent. Shares in smartphone maker BlackBerry (TSX:BB) were up nearly two per cent, or 29 cents, at $15.78. Meanwhile, the gold sector dropped 1.3 per cent, as June gold bullion fell $32 to US$1,436.60 an ounce.
In corporate news, shares in automobile parts giant Magna International (TSX:MG) shot up nearly four per cent after it reported an increase in first-quarter net earnings and revenue despite a meagre increase in vehicle production in North America and a downturn in Europe.
Magna said net profits attributable to shareholders rose to US$369 million or $1.57 per diluted share, up from US$343 million or $1.46 per share. Revenue improved to US$8.36 billion, up from US$7.67 billion. Its stock was up $2.41 to $65.62.
The operator of Canada's major stock exchanges, TMX Group Limited (TSX:X), reported a first-quarter net profit of $37.8 million or 70 cents per share as it brought in revenues of $172.2 million in the three months ended March 31. In the same 2012 period, the TMX lost $4.4 million, but the results were not comparable because of a change in ownership late last year and other changes. Traders reacted by driving down its shares by nearly three per cent, or $1.45, to $$51.49.
In the U.S., Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech that the Fed has broadened its oversight beyond banks and now monitors a wide range of financial institutions that could hasten another financial crisis.
The 2008 financial crisis helped push the U.S. into the worst recession since the 1930s. Bernanke said the country is still suffering from the effects of the crisis and economic downturn.
Overseas, G7 finance ministers and central bankers also began a two-day meeting in the U.K., which Bernanke was not expected to attend.
The bankers will likely discuss monetary policy and how to shore up the global recovery just as the stimulus policy of one its members, Japan, has caused its currency to extend its slide against the dollar.