TSX falls as jobs data fails to lift fog on rates

Fri Sep 4, 2015 4:46pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell broadly on Friday as mixed employment data provided little clarity for investors ahead of central bank monetary policy meetings on both sides of the border.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE fell 118.10 points, or 0.87 percent, to 13,478.31. It lost 2.7 percent on the week, pummeled by volatile oil prices and fears about slowing Chinese growth.

"I think the market now is confused and scared," said Marcus Xu, portfolio manager at M.Y. Capital Management Corp. "The TSX remains under lots of pressure from all these worry factors," he added, referring to China, the price of oil, and uncertainty over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will choose to raise interest rates later this month.

Canada unexpectedly added jobs in August, but the unemployment rate rose to a one-year high as more people looked for work.

Job growth in the United States slowed in August, but the unemployment rate dropped to a near 7-1/2-year low and wages accelerated.

"At the end of the day, when you look at the data release this morning, there isn't a clear answer and if there's one thing the market doesn't like, it's uncertainty," said Patrick Blais, senior portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

"The market's just having trouble reading the timing of the (Federal Reserve's) rate increase. I think that's just throwing the market off. There's a little bit for everyone, but at the end of the day, no one's happy."

Blais said the odds the Bank of Canada cuts rates have dropped heading into next week's meeting, but that domestic headwinds remain and improving trends were unsustainable.   Continued...

A man walks past an old Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) sign in Toronto, June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch