Loonie up, stock markets decline in early Friday trade

TORONTO -- North American stock markets were lower Friday after employment data on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border came in below estimates.

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The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX index declined 34.97 points to 12,739.53 after 90 minutes of trading. Statistics Canada reported earlier that the national unemployment rate rose to 7.2 per cent in January. Economists expected it to be stable at 7.1 per cent.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 182.37 points at 16,234.21, the broader S&P 500 composite index declined 24.97 points to 1,890.48 and the Nasdaq composite fell 98.52 points to 4,411.04.

The U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs in January, less than in recent months. The November and December data were also revised to show 2,000 fewer jobs than previously reported.

The loonie traded at 72.20 cents US, down 0.05 from Thursday's close. It had been up about half a cent before the employment reports were released.

On the commodity markets, the April gold contract fell $5.00 to US$1,152.50 an ounce and the March crude contract was up 18 cents at US$31.90 per barrel.

On Thursday, the Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX index climbed 181.48 points to 12,774.50, its second triple-digit increase in as many days. The the Dow Jones industrial average rose 79.92 points to 16,416.58, while the broader S&P 500 gained 2.92 points to 1,915.45 and the Nasdaq closed 5.32 points higher at 4,509.56.



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