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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's job growth slowed in June for a second straight month in a reality check after outsized employment gains earlier this year, firming the market's view that the central bank won't act soon on recent hints of a rate hike.
Waning business confidence due to the European debt crisis and a stalled U.S. economy meant Canada generated just 7,300 net new jobs last month, adding to 7,700 in May, according to Statistics Canada data released on Friday.
The June increase, though above market forecasts of a 5,000 gain, is negligible as it is within the margin of error for Statscan's household survey.
Still, analysts took some comfort even from the modest gains after anticipating some payback for the unsustainable two-month jump of 140,500 jobs in March and April - the biggest in over 30 years.
"This is consistent with fairly decent progress in the Canadian labor market. After gaining a lot of jobs in March and April, we're looking at a slightly subdued pace of hiring," said David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities.
"I think this does speak to some residual momentum in the Canadian economy but perhaps a little bit more caution on the part of firms looking at some of the international headwinds and maybe a sense of domestic fatigue."
The unemployment rate dipped to 7.2 percent in June from 7.3 percent as fewer people were looking for work, Statscan said.
The dismal hiring in Canada mirrored that of the United States, where non-farm payrolls expanded by just 80,000 jobs in June, falling short of forecasts and not enough to bring down the country's 8.2 percent unemployment rate.
The Canadian dollar hit a session high of C$1.0140 to the U.S. dollar after the North American jobs data. It later fell to C$1.0185 to the U.S. dollar, or 98.18 U.S. cents.
Canadian bond prices crept up across the curve and yields dipped following the North American jobs data. Canada's two-year government bond yielded 1.003 percent, from 1.007 before the releases. The benchmark 10-year bond yielded 1.695 percent from around 1.707 percent before the data.
The jobs data is not strong enough to push the Bank of Canada closer to an interest rate increase for the first time since September 2010, analysts said.
"We would have needed either a huge disappointment or a huge gain to really see any movement at all in expectations on the Bank of Canada," said Blake Jespersen, managing director of foreign exchange sales at BMO Capital Markets.
The central bank had signaled in April that it was considering raising rates but has since softened its hawkish tone, although as recently as on June 21, it continued to signal higher rates were possible, in contrast to most of its Western peers.
The biggest job gains in the month were in the services industry, while the goods-producing sector shrank its work force. The biggest declines were in agriculture, natural resources and construction.
Public sector hiring was strong, with some 38,900 workers added, while the private sector laid off 26,000 employees.
Nearly 30,000 full-time jobs were created, while 22,000 part-time ones were lost in the month.
Wages improved markedly; the average hourly wage of permanent employees climbed 3.3 percent from a year ago, compared with a 2.9 percent increase in May.
Additional reporting by Claire Sibonney, Allison Martell and Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Bernadette Baum