Toronto stock market edges higher, loonie dips against U.S. dollar

A mixed jobs report and little movement on commodities saw Canada’s main stock index notch a small gain Friday, while U.S. markets were mixed.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed up 23.82 points at 15,983.32, led by base metals and health care stocks.

The muted day on the markets came after Statistics Canada reported that the economy posted a net loss of 1,100 jobs, while hourly wages were 3.6 per cent higher than a year ago for the highest annual increase since 2012.

The mixed showing on the jobs front meant little impact on the broader market, said Kevin Headland, senior investment strategist at Manulife Investments.

“It’s a bit of a wishy washy jobs numbers, when you look at a net loss but still positive in terms of full-time jobs. Average hourly earnings are up, participation rate declined a little bit…so kind of a mixed bag.”

The rise in wages was partially tied to increases in minimum wages in Ontario and B.C., so won’t necessarily impact growth for the year, while the overall numbers wouldn’t likely change policy directions at the Bank of Canada, said Headland.

“I don’t think there’s enough strength in the job numbers to spook inflationary worries that the Bank of Canada’s going to surprise the upside or do something unexpected, and I think that’s why you kind of haven’t seen really any type of movement on either side.”

The jobs numbers did little to sway the loonie, with the Canadian dollar averaging 78.25 cents US, down 0.03 of a US cent.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 91.64 points at 24,831.17. The S&P 500 index was up 4.65 points at 2,727.72 and the Nasdaq composite index closed down 2.09 points at 7,402.88.

Energy stocks on both sides of the border saw small losses as the June crude contract ended down 66 cents to US$70.70 per barrel, while the June natural gas contract was unchanged at US$2.81 per mmBTU.

The June gold contract closed down $1.60 at US$1,320.70 an ounce and the July copper contract closed unchanged at US$3.11 a pound.