(RTTNews.com) - Canadian stocks snapped a five-day gain to end slightly lower on Thursday, after having scaled an an all-time high on Wednesday, driven by weakness in commodity prices. Investors also weighed some largely upbeat economic data from U.S. and Canada, with employment rising much more than expected in the world's largest economy rising in June.
In some positive economic news, employment in the U.S. rose much more than anticipated in June, with unemployment rate dropping to its lowest level in almost six years, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. Elsewhere, a Commerce Department report showed showed U.S. trade deficit to have narrowed more than expected in May, with value of exports rising and value of imports falling. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 17,000 for the first time.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank kept its interest rates unchanged after its monthly policy meeting on Thursday, even though the region's economy continues to lag.
Nevertheless, geopolitical concerns over developments in Iraq and Ukraine continued to be a matter of concern, helping the precious metal stem and limit losses to an extent.
Energy and gold stocks ended mostly lower due to weaker crude oil and bullion prices.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed Thursday at 15,207.11, down 2.68 points or 0.02 percent. The index scaled an all-time intraday high of 15,256.36 and a low of 15,195.88.
On Wednesday, the index ended up 63.78 points or 0.42 percent at 15,209.79, an all-time closing high. The index scaled an all-time intraday high of 15,223.04, surpassing the previous best of 15,154.77, recorded on June 6, 2008.
Crude oil futures slipped for a sixth day to end at a three-week low on Thursday, amid easing supply worries after reports indicated increased crude shipments from Libya with Iraq exports likely to continue undisturbed.
The Energy Index dropped 0.22 percent, with U.S. crude oil futures for August delivery, the most actively traded contract, dropped $0.42 or 0.4 percent to close at $104.06 a barrel Thursday on the Nymex.
Among energy stocks, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO) gained 0.20 percent, Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM.TO) edged down 0.27 percent, Suncor Energy Inc.(SU.TO) down 0.85 percent, Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE.TO) shed 0.58 percent, and Encana Corp. (ECA.TO) fell 1.13 percent.
The Financial Index added 0.33 percent with Toronto-Dominion Bank up 0.11 percent, National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) up 0.57 percent, Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS.TO) up 0.45 percent, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) added 0.13 percent.
The Capped Healthcare Index dipped 0.09 percent with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. (VRX.TO) shedding 0.08 percent and Catamaran Corp. (CCT.TO) down 0.32 percent
The Global Gold Index shed 1.25 percent, with gold futures for August delivery dropping $10.30 or 0.8 percent to close at $1,320.60 an ounce Thursday on the Nymex.
Among gold stocks, B2Gold Corp. (BTO.TO) slipped 1.62 percent, Yamana Gold Inc. (YRI.TO) slipped 1.13 percent, Kinross Gold Corp. (K.TO) down 2.31 percent, and Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD.TO) dropped 1.48 percent.
Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.TO) surrendered 1.23 percent, after reports suggested the miner was looking to sell its Golden Sunlight mine in Montana, aiming to shed non-core assets. The Toronto-based gold miner has hired Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to help sell the mine in Jefferson County, southwestern Montana, reports say.
The Capped Materials Index dipped 0.20 percent, with Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT.TO) edging down 0.57 percent.
The Diversified Metals & Mining Index surged 3.40 percent, with Lundin Mining Corp. (LUN.TO) jumping 3.61 percent, Teck Resources Limited (TCK.B.TO) up 0.63 percent, and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM.TO) surging 7.11 percent.
The Information Technology Index dropped 1.19 percent, with BlackBerry Limited (BB.TO) down 0.88 percent and CGI Group Inc. (GIB.A.TO) shedding 1.17 percent.
The Capped Industrials Index moved up 0.43 percent, with Bombardier Inc. (BBD.B.TO) up 0.53 percent and Air Canada (AC.B.TO) added 1.55 percent.
GuestLogix Inc. (GXI.TO) shares gained 2.34 percent after announcing a multi-year renewal agreement with the Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV).
Canexus Corp. (CUS.TO) plunged 7.34 percent after announcing the appointment of Douglas Wonnacott as its President and Chief Executive Officer and a director, effective immediately.
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. (TKM.TO) shares plummeted 16.69 percent after announcing the receipt of a verbal notice from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration that the TKM-Ebola Phase I healthy volunteer clinical study has been placed on clinical hold.
SiriusXM Canada (XSR.TO) gained 1.13 percent after revealing the extension of an agreement with Honda Canada that provides a free, three-month subscription to the satellite radio music service in new Honda vehicles.
On the economic front, Canadian merchandise exports grew 3.5 percent in May, while imports were up 1.6 percent, Statistics Canada said. Trade deficit narrowed to $152 million from $961 million in April.
In economic news from the U.S., a report from the Labor Department showed an addition of 288,000 jobs in June, notably higher than an expected addition of 211,000 jobs. Meanwhile, jobless rate fell to a near six-year low of 6.1 percent. Economist expected unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 6.3 percent.
Another report from the Labor Department showed jobless claims to have risen to 315,000 in the week ended June 28th. The consensus estimate called for a rise to 314,000 from 312,000 in the previous week.
A report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed trade deficit to have dropped a more than expected 5.6 percent in May to $44.4 billion. Economists expected the trade deficit to have narrowed to $45.1 billion from $47.2 billion in the previous month.
Meanwhile, activity in the U.S. service sector grew for the 53rd consecutive month in June a report from the Institute for Supply Management showed Thursday, although the pace of growth slowed slightly with the index edging down to 56.0, from 56.3 in the previous month.
In economic news from the eurozone, the European Central Bank has left its interest rates unchanged at 0.15 percent, after reducing them in June while announcing several liquidity measures. The bank retained the deposit rate at -0.10 percent, having slashed the rate from zero to negative in June.
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