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TSX Dips On Downbeat US Data - Canadian Commentary


Canadian stocks were extending losses for a third session Wednesday morning as traders turned cautious ahead of this week's all important jobs data form the U.S, with today's report on private sector employment painting a bleak picture over the employment situation in the world's largest economy.

Payroll processor ADP released a report showing that private sector employment in the U.S. rose by much less than expected in the month of March and a report released by the Institute for Supply Management showed that the pace of service sector growth unexpectedly slowed compared to the previous month.

From the euro zone, the International Monetary Fund will contribute 1 billion euros over three years to the 10 billion euro bailout for Cyprus, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement earlier today. Meanwhile, Haris Georgiades was sworn in as Cyprus' new finance minister after Michalis Sarris quit the post to facilitate an inquiry into what led the Mediterranean Island to the brink of bankruptcy.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index lost 95.46 points or 0.75 percent to 12,586.64, after losing just over 0.50 percent in the past two straight sessions.

The price of gold was extending losses Wednesday morning as the yellow metal was losing its safe haven appeal amid hopes of economic recovery in the U.S. and on easing concerns over Cyprus. Gold for June delivery shed $3.20 to $1,572.70 an ounce.

Among gold plays, Alamos Gold Inc. (AGI.TO) lost about 4 percent, while Royal Gold (RGL.TO) and Detour Gold (DGC.TO) surrendering around 2 percent each. Goldcorp. (G.TO), Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) and Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) moved down around 1 percent each

Latest data from the EIA revealed that U.S. crude oil inventories moved up by 2.7 million barrels, while gasoline stocks shed 0.60 million barrels in the weekended March 29. Analysts expect US crude oil inventories to add 2.1 million barrels last week. Crude for May lost $0.99 to $96.20 a barrel.

In the oil patch, Niko Resources (NKO.TO) dipped about 4 percent, while ARC Resources (ARX.TO) was down over 2 percent.

Lender Toronto-Dominion Bank or TD Bank Group (TD, TD.TO) slipped 0.50 percent after announcing that its President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Clark will retire on November 1, 2014 at age 67, after 12 years as CEO. He will remain as a Director until TD's 2015 Annual Meeting.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO, RY) eased about 0.50 percent after it said that it acquired the Athena Energy Group, a natural gas supplier in Quebec, for undisclosed terms.

Meanwhile, Absolute Software Corp. (ABT.TO) jumped over 15 percent. after announcing it has entered into a global partnership with Samsung Electronics. Under the partnership, Samsung will embed patented Absolute persistence technology into the firmware of Samsung GALAXY mobile devices as a feature of Samsung KNOX, which will be launched later this year.

Drug maker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (VRX, VRX.TO) added 0.40 percent after it increased its offer to acquire Obagi Medical Products Inc. (OMPI) to $24.00 per share from $19.75 per share in cash. Yesterday, Merz Pharma Group announced a sweetened proposal to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Obagi Medical Products Inc. (OMPI) for $22 per share in cash.

In economic news from the U.S., a report released by payroll processor Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP)revealed private sector employment increased by 158,000 jobs in March compared to economist estimates for an increase of about 205,000 jobs. While the report also showed that the private sector job growth for February was upwardly revised to 237,000 from 198,000, the job growth for January was downwardly revised to 177,000 from 215,000.

A report released by the Institute for Supply Management revealed that its non-manufacturing index dipped to 54.4 in March from 56.0 in February, although a reading above 50 indicates continued growth in the service sector. The drop surprised economists, who had expected the index to come in unchanged.

Elsewhere, inflation in the euro area decelerated for the third consecutive month in March, but to a lesser extend than forecast by economists, as energy prices increased at a significantly slower pace, initial estimates showed. The harmonized index of consumer prices increased 1.7 percent year-on-year in March after growing 1.8 percent in February. Economists had forecast a quicker slowdown to 1.6 percent. The rate of growth weakened for the third month in a row.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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