U.S. jobs letdown drags TSX to 3-month low

Mon Apr 9, 2012 4:53pm EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index hit its lowest level in more than three months on Monday following much weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data on Friday, though a rally in gold mining shares helped cushion the fall.

Markets had been closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

A mix of resources and financials were among the heaviest decliners. Potash Corp (POT.TO: Quote) fell 2.1 percent to C$43.94, insurer Manulife Financial (MFC.TO: Quote) dropped 3.1 percent to C$12.73, and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO: Quote) lost 0.7 percent to C$56.55.

"People kept saying we're going to have some sort of a pullback, and you never know exactly what's going to happen but Friday was what happened basically, the poor employment report in the U.S.," said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier.

"To his credit, Bernanke has been warning about a poor jobs recovery and maybe we didn't listen enough to it," Nakamoto added, in reference to U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

The U.S. Labor Department reported that employers added 120,000 jobs last month, far below the median forecast for 203,000 new jobs and the smallest increase since October.

The unexpectedly sharp slowdown in U.S. jobs growth cast doubt over the ability of the United States to help boost the global economy as Europe's debt crisis resurfaces and worries remain whether China's economy will avoid a hard landing.

Surprisingly soft producer prices data in China sparked concerns of waning demand, reinforcing expectations that a cooling economy has eclipsed inflation as the Chinese government's biggest near-term worry.   Continued...

An electronic board displays the midday TSX index in Toronto February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch