CANADA STOCKS-TSX steady as banks slip, resources gain

Fri Apr 4, 2014 4:47pm EDT

* TSX eases 9.11 points, or 0.06 percent, to 14,393.10
    * Five of the 10 main index sectors decline
    * Air Canada jumps after earnings forecast

    By John Tilak
    TORONTO, April 4 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index was
little changed on Friday as a decline in the financial sector
after a U.S. jobs report helped offset strength in natural
resource shares spurred by higher commodity prices. 
    In Canada, twice as many jobs as expected were created in
March and the unemployment rate dropped for the first time this
year, a government report showed. 
    South of the border, U.S. employers maintained a solid pace
of hiring for a second straight month in March, adding 192,000
jobs, after a long winter had clouded recent reports.
 
    But the U.S. numbers missed market expectations, raising
doubts among investors about the health of the economy and
driving up gold prices. The jump in bullion, which is seen a
safe-haven bet in tough economic times, sent gold-mining shares
higher.
    "From an investor perspective, there's a glacial, but
consistent, improvement in the (U.S.) labor market," said
Stephen Wood, chief market strategist, North America, at Russell
Investments.
    "This does little to alter Fed policy," he added, referring
to the U.S. Federal Reserve's efforts to pull back on its
stimulus program. "The Fed is going to give itself more, not
less, flexibility. And the Fed is probably going to want to see
some material progress before they begin to tighten."
    The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
 closed down 9.11 points, or 0.06 percent, at
14,393.10. It recorded a weekly gain of 0.9 percent and has
added about 5.7 percent in 2014.
    "Resources will help out the TSX (this year), but I expect a
much higher interest rate environment in the fall, which will be
negative for the markets," said John Ing, president of Maison
Placements Canada.
    Five of the 10 main sectors on the index were in the red on
Friday.
    Financials, the index's most heavily weighted sector, gave
back 0.2 percent. Toronto-Dominion Bank declined 0.2
percent to C$51.48.
    Gold-mining shares rose 0.6 percent. In the group, Barrick
Gold Corp advanced 0.3 percent to C$20.30, and Goldcorp
Inc rose 0.8 percent to C$27.36.
    Oil prices also climbed, helping drive up the energy sector.
Suncor Energy Inc was up 0.9 percent at C$39.55, and
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd gained 0.2 percent to
C$43.65.
    In corporate news, Air Canada forecast higher
first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation,
amortization and impairment, and aircraft rent (EBITDAR) due to
system-wide traffic growth and increased capacity. The stock
shot up 26.7 percent to C$7.30. 
    ($1=$1.10 Canadian)

 (Editing by Peter Galloway)
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