TSX advances Wall Street turns lower on mixed US jobs report

TORONTO — North American markets were mixed Thursday, with the Toronto Stock Exchange advancing while New York markets turned lower.At mid-afternoon, the S&P/TSX composite index was ahead 79.41 points at 14,632.74 as trading resumed after a one-day break for Canada Day.The Canadian dollar fell below the 80-cent US mark for the first time since early June, shedding 0.39 of a U.S. cent to 79.67 cents. The loonie continued to drift lower in the wake of a Statistics Canada report earlier in the week showing the economy contracted for a fourth consecutive month in April, which has raised recession fears and led to speculation about a possible rate cut by the Bank of Canada.On the commodity markets, the August crude contract gained 22 cents to US$57.18 a barrel and the August gold contract dropped $5.40 to US$1,163.90 an ounce.In New York, markets turned lower amid continued worries over the Greek debt crisis and a mixed report on the U.S. jobs market. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 56.19 points at 17,701.72, while the Nasdaq fell 16.31 points to 4,996.81 and the S&P 500 declined 4.98 points to 2,072.44.American markets will be closed Friday in advance of the July 4th Independence Day holiday on Saturday. Canadian markets will be open.In economic news, the U.S. Labor Department reported the American economy added 223,000 jobs in June, with the unemployment rate falling to a seven-year low of 5.3 per cent.However, the drop in the unemployment rate was mainly because many of the unemployed had given up searching for jobs. Also on the negative side, wage growth stalled last month after showing signs of improvement earlier in the year. Adding to the disappointment was a report from the Commerce Department that U.S. factory orders declined one per cent in May, the biggest drop in three months.And orders for durable goods — those expected to last at least three years — fell 2.2 per cent in May, which was even worse than the 1.8 per cent drop forecast in a preliminary report last week.U.S. manufacturing has suffered this year under the weight of a rising dollar, which has hurt exports by making American goods more expensive in other countries.Also, never far from traders’ minds, was the ongoing Greek debt crisis. Among developments Thursday was an analysis from the International Monetary Fund that said Athens needs debt relief and 50 billion euros in new financing from October through 2018.The analysis, conducted before Athens defaulted on loans to the IMF on Tuesday, warned that creditors needed to offer Greece discounted interest rates and a longer repayment period.Greeks vote Sunday on whether to accept demands that creditors had been proposing to resolve the standoff over bailout funds.

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