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Bay Street Weighs Upbeat Jobs Report -- Canadian Commentary

Canadian stocks were poised for a lackluster start Friday morning despite solid bank earnings and encouraging news on the economic front.

The nation's economy generated 79,500 net new jobs in November and drove the jobless rate down 0.4 percentage to 5.9 percent, the lowest in a decade.

On an annual basis, employment was up by 390,000 (+2.1%), with all the gains attributable to full-time work.

Still, markets will be on edge today amid signs that U.S. tax reform may be delayed.

Meanwhile, another Canadian bank turned in upbeat quarterly results.

National Bank of Canada (NA.TO) reported a profit for its fourth quarter that beat expectations. The company said its bottom line climbed to C$531 million, or C$1.40 per share. This was higher than C$463 million, or C$1.24 per share, in last year's fourth quarter.

The bank also boosted its dividend.

BCE Inc. (BCE, BCE.TO) announced the upcoming launch of Lucky Mobile, a low-cost prepaid mobile alternative for budget-conscious Canadians with monthly plans starting at just $20.

Canadian oil sands producer MEG Energy expects higher production in 2018, it was announced today.

Crude oil futures rose Friday morning after OPEC agreed to extend its supply quota plan with Russia through 2018.

WTI light sweet crude oil was up 46 cents at $57.87 a barrel.

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