Toronto stocks set to ease on US jobs data, oil

Fri Jan 4, 2008 9:08am EST
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TORONTO Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index was set to cool on Friday after jobs data painted a dark picture of the U.S. economy, and the price of oil eased from its recent highs.

In the United States, Canada's biggest trading partner, employers created less than a third the number of jobs economists had expected in December, heightening expectations of a recession. For details, see: [nN03240815]

Weakness in the United States would spill into Canada, and hit the profits of TSX-listed firms.

"It just adds more fuel to the fire, and they're already predicting a 50-percent chance of a recession hitting the U.S. this year," said Steve Ibel, institutional equities trader at Beacon Securities in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE has risen in eight of the past nine sessions, gaining 4.6 percent as oil and gold prices gained momentum.

But crude oil futures eased early on Friday, which could encourage investors to cash in on the recent runup in TSX energy stocks.

Over the last two sessions the energy sector rose 3.6 percent.

In the same period, the materials sector soared 6 percent on the back of bullish spot gold prices, which were flat on Friday. Spot gold hit a record high in the previous session.

In Canada, data showed the surge in the price of petroleum boosted producer prices by 0.6 percent in November, above expectations. For details, see: [nN04245905]

Elsewhere, Bombardier Inc BBDb.TO could attract some attention after Libyan Airlines agreed to buy two jets at an order value of $76 million. For details, see: [nN03248247]

In the previous session, the TSX benchmark advanced 51.44 points, or 0.4 percent, to 13,978.20, its highest close in nearly two months. ($1=$0.99 Canadian) (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Peter Galloway)