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TSX May Struggle To Move Higher; Unemployment Rate Down - Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks may struggle to recover from their recent steep losses at open Thursday as commodities appeared to have halted their southward journey. However, worries over global economic growth might continue to weigh on trader sentiment. Also, investors are likely to turn cautious ahead of a long weekend.

Today's economic data from across the Atlantic were not so encouraging. U.K.'s manufacturing output unexpectedly declined, while German industrial output fell by more than expected.

U.S. stock futures were pointing to a lower open.

On Thursday, the S&P/TSX Composite Index extended losses for a second session, dipping 144.95 points or 1.18 percent to 12,178.66.

The price of crude oil was recovering from the past two-session losses Thursday morning, supported by concerns over Iranian oil supplies and China data. China's service sector expanded notably in March, though at a slower pace compared to the previous month, a survey by Markit Economics revealed. Firms remained fairly upbeat about their business prospects with confidence jumping to a 11-month high. The headline seasonally adjusted HSBC/Markit Business Activity Index, an indicator of activity in the service sector, scored 53.3 in March compared to 53.9 in February. Crude for May delivery edged up $0.04 to $101.51 a barrel.

After falling heavily in the previous session, the price of gold moved higher Thursday morning despite a steady US dollar. Gold for June gained $10.20 to $1,624.30 an ounce.

In corporate news from Canada, broadband network solutions provider Sandvine Corp. (SVC.TO) reported a wider first quarter net loss of C$6.50 million or C$0.47 per share compared to C$2.70 million or C$0.02 per share a year ago. Separately, the company announced that it has received over $7 million in Network Policy Control expansion orders from a tier-1 North American cable operator.

Lake Shore Gold (LSG.TO) announced the resumption of operations at its Timmins West Mine in Ontario, where production was halted for a week following the death of a worker in an accident.

In economic news, Statistics Canada said the economy created 82,000 jobs in March helping the unemployment rate ease by 0.2 percentage points to 7.2 percent. Economists expected only 10,000 new positions to be created, leaving the unemployment rate at 7.4 percent.

Separately, the agency said total value of building permits rose 7.5 percent to $6.5 billion in February, sharply reversing an 11.4 percent decline in January. The advance in February was the result of an increase in the non-residential sector, which offset the decrease in the residential sector.

From the U.S., the Labor Department said new claims for unemployment came in at a seasonally adjusted level of 357,000, a decline of 6,000 from the previous week's revised average of 363,000. While the previous figure was revised up somewhat from the 359,000 initially reported, this week's numbers come in lower than the 360,000 predicted by most economists.

From the euro zone, Germany's industrial production declined more than expected in February, data from the Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology showed. Industrial output dropped 1.3 percent in February from a month ago, offsetting January's 1.2 percent growth. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent decrease.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England left its key interest rate unchanged at 0.50 percent, while maintaining its asset purchase program at GBP 325 billion.

by RTT Staff Writer

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