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Canadian Stocks Paring Gains After Steady Start

The Canadian stock market opened on a steady note Friday morning and was up firmly in positive territory till a little past mid morning, led by gains in information technology, energy and healthcare sections.

However, it gave up a substantial portion of its gains in late morning trades and was just marginally up a little while ago.

Data showing a notable addition in new jobs and a drop in unemployment aided sentiment in early trades.

Higher crude oil prices and slightly easing worries about U.S.-Mexico trade issues helped as well.

The benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index, which rose to 16,277.36, was up 8.40 points, or 0.05%, at 16,236.20.

Information technology stock Enghouse Systems (ENGH.TO) rose nearly 6% on strong results. The company said that net income for the quarter was $16.5 million or $0.30 per diluted share compared to $15.3 million or $0.28 per diluted share in the prior year's second quarter.

Shopify Inc. (SHOP.TO) gained about 2.3% and Blackberry (BB.TO) advanced 2%. Kinaxis Inc. (KXS.TO) added 1.8%, while Constellation Software (CSU.TO) and Descartes Systems Group (DSG.TO) were both up by about 1.5%.

In the healthcare space, Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) moved up 5.1%. CannTrust Holdings (TRST.TO) climbed up 1.75%, Aurora Cannabis (ACB.TO) gained 1.5% and Hexo Corp. (HEXO.TO) advanced nearly 1%.

Among energy stocks, Baytex Energy (BTE.TO), Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO), Enerplus Corp. (ERF.TO), Ensign Energy Services (ESI.TO) and Canadian Natural Gas (CNQ.TO) were up 1 to 2.5%.

Saputo (SAP.TO) shares plunged more than 7% after Royal Bank of Canada cut the stock's target price by $2 to $50.

On the economic front, data from Statistics Canada said Canada added 27,700 jobs in May 2019, beating estimates for an addition of 8,000 jobs. However, the addition in May was much below the 106,500 jobs created in the previous month.

Meanwhile, unemployment rate in Canada fell to 5.4% in May, from 5.7% a month earlier. Market expected unemployment to come in at 5.7%. The latest unemployment percentage is the lowest since 1976.

U.S. stocks were up in positive territory amid optimism that disappointing U.S. jobs data could spur the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates in the near future.

The Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report said non-farm payroll employment rose by 75,000 jobs in May after soaring by a downwardly revised 224,000 jobs in April.

Economists had expected employment to increase by about 185,000 jobs compared to the jump of 263,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate came in at 3.6% in May, unchanged from the previous month and in line with economist estimates.

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