By Anna Andrianova, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Canadian stocks finished lower Friday, moderating weekly gains, after government data showed that employment growth stalled and as most metals and mining stocks dropped.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 91.49 points, or 0.8%, to close at 11,500.63, with the metals sector down 1.3% and energy /zigman2/quotes/210598495/delayed XX:TORGC187 +1.19% off 1.4%.
For the week, Toronto’s benchmark index gained 1.2%, but has lost 3.8% year-to-date.
Friday’s “listlessness appears to be due to traders not willing to take on new positions ahead of the weekend,” said Colin Cieszynski, a market analyst with CMC Markets. “Many markets appear to be in the process of forming bases but this could take a while with the potential that markets could take good kicks in both directions before matters are settled.”
And looking ahead to the weekend, a number of reports and potential market-moving events are on tap, including Chinese economic data, and a possible Spanish banks resolution, he said.
“People are sitting and waiting,” he said, adding he expected volatility will continue until the Greek elections, a weekend away from now.
In Toronto, shares of Alacer Gold Corp. declined 4.5%, Eldorado Gold Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207321207/delayed CA:ELD -1.64% fell 1.8% and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203742161/delayed CA:CNQ +0.48% decreased 2.4%.
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Among heavyweights, Barrick Gold Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209252292/delayed CA:ABX -1.97% rose 0.9%, Kinross Gold Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200423011/delayed CA:K -2.51% gained 2.5%, and Goldcorp Inc. /zigman2/quotes/225792379/delayed CA:G -0.95% added 0.4%.
Statistics Canada said Friday the country’s unemployment rate held at 7.3% in May. Employment increased by 7,700 from April, short of some forecasts.
“Overall, the report is neutral and signals that, after two consecutive months of strong employment gains, Canada’s labor market is back to more normal trends. It does not change our view that we believe that the [Bank of Canada] should hike its policy rate this year,” said Nomura Securities analysts in a note.
This past Tuesday the Bank of Canada said it would keep its target rate at 1%. In its statement, the bank said that first-quarter economic growth was slightly slower than expected and that exposure to the European crisis still remains.
Gold futures ended a choppy day with modest gains, following a sharp decline in the prior session after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech Thursday failed to give the kind of green light to further monetary stimulus that some had anticipated.
Gold futures for delivery in August ended up $3.40, or 0.2%, at $1,591.40 an ounce, while other major metals finished lower for the session. Read Friday’s metals column.
The Canadian dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561978/realtime/sampled USDCAD +0.2668% edged up against the greenback Friday, with the U.S. dollar buying C$1.0261 versus C$1.0278 in the prior session.