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TSX rises as traders look to U.S. jobs data, European Central Bank aid

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed higher Wednesday amid hopes that stimulus measures are on the way to help the eurozone recovery and that the U.S. will rack up another month of strong job gains.

The S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 62.1 points to 14,796.79.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.24 of a cent to 91.42 cents as the Bank of Canada announced it was keeping its key rate unchanged at one per cent and indicated they will stay that low for some time to come.

U.S. indexes registered minor gains despite a disappointing read on private sector job creation during May.

The Dow Jones industrials climbed 15.19 points to 16,737.53, the Nasdaq gained 17.56 points to 4,251.64 and the S&P 500 index was 3.64 points higher to 1,927.88.

Payroll firm ADP reported Wednesday that the U.S. private sector created 179,000 jobs during May, the fewest number in four months. That reading came in two days before the release of U.S. non-farm payrolls report for last month. Economists have forecast that about 219,000 jobs were created during May following a much stronger than expected 288,000 gain in April.

Canadian job figures for May also come out Friday and economists expect about 21,000 jobs were created after the economy shed 29,000 the previous month.

The employment news was somewhat offset by other data showing the American non-manufacturing sector expanding at a faster than forecast clip. The Institute for Supply Management said its index rose to 56.3, the highest level since last August and above expectations for a read of 55.5.

Also, the Federal Reserve’s latest regional survey shows the U.S. economy strengthening over the past two months in areas from manufacturing and construction to retail sales and bank lending.

Meanwhile, markets are counting on the European Central Bank to announce measures Thursday aimed at giving a lift to the eurozone's weak recovery and saving the region from falling into a deflationary spiral that would choke off growth.

Worries about deflation increased Tuesday in the wake of data showing that inflation in the eurozone came in at 0.5 per cent in May, down from 0.7 per cent in April.

"I would actually use the word 'scary' because growth has been very fragile at best and now you have disinflation. If that turns to deflation, we know the experience on this from Japan and it is not a pretty story," said Luciano Orengo, a portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

The latest data also showed that gross domestic product in the eurozone grew by a paltry 0.2 per cent in the first quarter.

Analysts are looking at a variety of options for the ECB, including an interest rate cut.

"I think the biggest wild card is whether it will do a form of quantitative easing," added Orengo.

The information technology sector was the biggest TSX advancer, up one per cent as BlackBerry (TSX:BB) ran up 25 cents to $8.40.

The financial sector was ahead 0.64 per cent and Laurentian Bank of Canada (TSX:LB) shares edged 48 cents higher to $48.06 as the bank's adjusted profit came in at $1.29 a share, five cents ahead of estimates. Laurentian also upped its quarterly dividend by a penny to 52 cents per share.

The gold sector was ahead about 0.2 per cent, while August bullion lost early momentum and faded 20 cents to US$1,244.30 an ounce.

The energy sector was up 0.63 per cent while the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange dipped two cents to US$102.64 a barrel.

The base metals segment led decliners, down 0.27 per cent while July copper fell four cents to US$3.09 a pound.

The Canadian Press


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