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S&P/TSX composite notches slight gain, U.S. stock markets down on strong jobs data

TORONTO — Strength in the energy and technology sectors helped Canada's main stock index climb higher in late-morning trading, while U.S. stock markets were mixed. The S&P/TSX composite index was up 46.19 points at 20,786.63.
A currency trader works in front of the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, and the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and South Korean won at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Ahn Young-joon

TORONTO — Canada's main stock index managed a slight gain on a day that saw markets swing notably following the release of better-than-expected jobs data in the U.S., which left markets in the U.S. down by day's end as investors plan for more rate hikes ahead.

The hotly-anticipated jobs data showed the U.S. added 517,000 jobs, far above the 187,000 expected, putting unemployment in the country down to a level not seen in over fifty years. 

The strong report showed that the U.S. Federal Reserve will have to continue on its rate push, said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.

"What the impact would be is continued rate increases, interest rates being higher for longer."

The news, along with disappointing earnings this week from some of North America's biggest tech companies, helped push markets into the red.

The S&P/TSX composite index, down for much of the afternoon, did however manage an end-of-day bump to close up 17.90 points at 20,758.34.

Sectors including energy, financials, and telecoms were up, while utilities, health care and base metals saw drops.

In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 127.93 points at 33,926.01. The S&P 500 index was down 43.28 points at 4,136.48, while the Nasdaq composite was down 193.86 points at 12,006.96.

U.S. markets were under pressure as corporate earnings began to take a hit from efforts to slow the economy, even if those efforts haven't appeared yet in the job numbers, said Chopra.

"As for earnings for the big tech companies, (they were) disappointing whether that was Amazon, Apple, or Alphabet ... it takes time for the impact of higher rates to feed through into the real economy."

The still strong U.S. economy means more rate hikes there at a time when the Bank of Canada has signaled a probable pause on raising rates, putting pressure on the loonie.

The Canadian dollar traded for 74.68 cents US compared with 75.12 cents US on Thursday.

The March crude oil contract closed down US$2.49 per barrel at US$73.39 and the March natural gas contract was down five cents at US$2.41 per mmBTU.

The April gold contract was down US$54.20 at US$1,876.60 an ounce and the March copper contract was down 3.5 cents at US$4.07 a pound.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.

Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X)

The Canadian Press