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Canadian Stocks Taking A Breather From Recent Gains; Jobless Rate Stays Steady at 7%

Canadian stocks tried but failed to hold on to early gains and now are now stuck in negative territory, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index down about 20 points with some initial euphoria around a 51,000 rise in February employment and the unemployment rate holding stable at 7.0% now abated.

Job growth was spread relatively equally between full-and part-time work, according to StatisticsCanada. On a year over year basis, 336,000 more Canadians were working last month compared to February 2011, with gains observed in the professional, scientific and technical service industries as well as the lodging and food services, public administration and agriculture sectors.

Manufacturing was the lone industry to post a notable decline, which also may be a factor in a 0.7% decline for shares of industrial companies today. Financial and banking stocks also are broadly lower.

In company news, Westport Innovations Inc (WPT.TO,WPRT) is up more than 2% at near $29.74 but off a day high $30.34 after the auto-parts manufacturer beat expectations with Q4 revenue. Its per-share net loss was wider than the Street view. But FY13 revenue guidance is in-line with analyst predictions.

Also, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (SNC.T0) is down nearly 8% today despite announcing a 4.5% hike in its quarterly dividend to C$0.23 per share. The building contractor this morning reported Q4 net income of C$0.63 per share, up from $0.50 in the year-ago quarter but trailing the analyst consensus by $0.27.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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