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Toronto, Wall Street mixed amid Ukraine deal and soft jobs numbers

TORONTO - The Toronto stock ended barely changed Friday, amid a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine and weak job reports in Canada and the United States.

The S&P/TSX composite index started the day slightly above Thursday's closed but ended the day down 6.87 points at 15,569.92. The Canadian dollar dipped 0.06 of a cent to 91.90 cents US.

There was strength on Wall Street though, with the Dow Jones industrials reversing earlier losses by climbing 67.72 points to 17,137.30. Nasdaq added 20.61 points to 4,582.90 and the S&P 500 index gained 10.05 points to 2,007.70.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a cease-fire Friday to end nearly five months of fighting after reaching a deal with Russian-backed rebels.

Since mid-April, separatists have been fighting Ukrainian government troops in a conflict that the United Nations estimates has killed nearly 2,600 people.

Paul Vaillancourt, managing director at Fiera Capital in Calgary, said markets have been cautious amid the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, which fears that Moscow will attempt to seize more of its territory after annexing the Crimea last year..

"(This situation) will continue to be played out as it is. It's a bit of a cat and mouse game being played between Russia and Ukraine," he said.

"I don't think we're going to see any massive invasion. I don't think we're going to see any massive boots on the ground so, what that means is, that it's noise. It was a distraction and an opportunity for nervous investors to take some profits."

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada reported that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at seven per cent in August with a total of 11,000 jobs lost.

Economists had expected the economy to add 10,000 jobs last month.

Statistics Canada says number of private-sector employees fell by 112,000 in August while self-employment rose by 87,000. The number of public-sector employees rose by 14,000 in August.

BMO chief economist Doug Porter said it was yet more evidence that the Canadian economy is struggling to churn out meaningful job growth and offered more fodder for the Bank of Canada to stay with its neutral stance on interest rates.

"In this environment of productivity-led growth, the Bank of Canada will continue to feel zero urgency about talking about raising rates, let alone actually raising them," Porter said.

It was a similarly disappointing jobs report in the U.S.

The U.S. Labor Department says employers added just 142,000 jobs in August, ending a six-month streak of hiring above 200,000 and posting the smallest gain in eight months.

Economists had forecast that the American economy created about 220,000 jobs last month.

The department said the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 per cent from 6.2 per cent, but the rate dropped because fewer Americans were working or seeking jobs.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has been carefully watching the release of the monthly job numbers as a sign to see if the economy is improving at a good pace and when it can start raising interest rates.

In corporate news, Bombardier Aerospace announced plans Friday to resume test flights later this month of its CSeries commercial jetliner, more than three months after an engine failure shut down the trials. Shares in Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) dipped two cents to $3.63 on The Toronto Stock Exchange.

Financial stocks were one of the biggest decliners on the TSX, down about 0.38 per cent.

On the commodity markets, the October crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange dipped $1.16 to US$93.29 a barrel. December bullion jumped 80 cents to US$1,267.30 an ounce, while December copper added two cents to US$3.17 a pound.

Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.

The Canadian Press

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