* TSX ends up 23.80 pts, or 0.2 pct at 12,577.28
* Highest close since Oct. 8
* U.S. jobs data lifts financials, energy shares
* Weak Canadian employment, Greek doubts weigh
By Jon Cook
TORONTO, Feb 3 Canadian stocks closed at
their highest level in nearly four months on Friday, boosted by
financial and energy issues as surprisingly healthy U.S.
employment figures offset sluggish Canadian jobs data and
uncertainty over a Greek debt deal.
U.S. job creation in January far outstripped analyst
expectations, with the unemployment rate dropping to a near
three-year low of 8.3 percent.
In addition, the pace of growth in the U.S. services sector
unexpectedly accelerated to its highest level in nearly a year.
"We've had a stream of generally positive numbers and the
rally is already looking pretty strong," said Gavin Graham,
president at Graham Investment Strategy. "The market is wanting
to believe these numbers are sustainable."
The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index
ended up 23.80 points, or 0.2 percent at 12,577.28. It
was the TSX's highest close since Oct. 8 and capped the index's
seventh straight weekly rise.
Seven of the TSX's 10 main sectors finished higher, led by
financials, which climbed nearly 1 percent. Toronto-Dominion
Bank was the sector's biggest gainer, rising 1.4 percent
Energy shares also benefited as oil prices climbed on hopes
the rise in U.S. jobs would boost demand from the world's top
consumer. Cenovus Energy climbed 2.9 percent to
Toronto stocks are up more than 5 percent this year after
ending 2011 down 11 percent. With central banks in the U.S. and
Europe flooding markets with cheap liquidity, analysts are more
bullish about the rally enduring.
"Effectively, Canada is a leveraged play on what happens in
the U.S., given how much of our exports go there, and if you
believe the U.S. is going to be strong then Canada could easily
do a 10 percent increase," said Graham.
Gold mining shares, down 2.5 percent, were the main drag as
bullion prices slipped on the U.S. jobs number, retreating from
an 11-week high as a brightening U.S. economic outlook hurt the
metal's safe-haven status.
Barrick Gold led decliners, sliding 2.3 percent to
Investors also remained nervous about the absence of a
restructuring deal between Greece and its creditors, with 14.5
billion euros in Greek bond redemptions due next month.
In Canada, the employment data was not so cheery as just
2,300 net new jobs were added in January as layoffs in
construction and professional services offset modest hiring in
manufacturing, Statistics Canada said.
The jobless rate ticked higher to 7.6 percent from 7.5
percent in December, its highest level since April 2011, as more
people were looking for work. Analysts in a Reuters poll had
predicted 23,100 new positions and a jobless rate holding steady
at 7.5 percent.
"Canada had succeeded early on in the recovery returning all
the jobs that had been lost during the recession and now it's
having a harder time pushing further," said David Tulk, chief
Canada macro strategist at TD Securities.
"It's sort of the mirror image in the U.S., where the U.S.
has struggled for quite some time and is finally getting its act