* TSX falls 60.1 pts, or 0.5 pct, at 12,408.25
* Canadian jobs data unexpectedly weak; U.S. data mixed
* Financials down more than 1 pct
* Greek confidence vote looms (Adds details, analyst’s comment)
By Jon Cook
TORONTO, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Canadian stocks turned lower on Friday following two days of gains, as Greece’s unstable political climate and weak North American jobs data hurt investor confidence.
As the weekend approach, markets were focused on the fate of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou ahead of a vote of confidence Friday night, which would have repercussions on a euro zone bailout package that was ratified last week. [ID:nL6E7M4019]
Adding to investor worries, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said few countries in the Group of 20 leading economies had committed to a euro zone bailout fund. [MKTS/GLOB]
The uncertainty had investors “locking in profits before the weekend,” said Paul Mesburis, portfolio manager at Excel Funds Management.
Unexpected job losses also threw the Canadian market a curve, as the economy, forecast to add jobs after a strong September, lost 54,000 jobs in October, according to a Statistics Canada report. [ID:nN1E7A30MF]
“Given the kind of optimism that we have preached around here for a while about the state of the economy of Canada some people might be a little bit surprised by those numbers,” said Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.
U.S. jobs data was mixed. U.S. employers hired fewer workers in October but the jobless rate fell to a six-month low and job gains in the prior two months were stronger than previously thought, pointing to some improvement in the still-weak labor market. [ID:nN1E7A21ET]
The decline offset early market optimism after Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos promised to drop a contentious referendum plan on the debt-riddled country’s euro zone rescue fund, in the face of intense pressure from European leaders. [ID:nA8E7K1026]
Speculation of the move had sent markets soaring on Thursday, as the TSX jumped nearly 2 percent, reversing most of the losses from earlier in the week.
“Today that level of confidence is knocked back by a notch or two,” said Ketchen.
The Canadian financials sector led the market down, falling 1.4 percent. Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) was the biggest loser, dropping 2.4 percent to C$45.85.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE ended down 60.1 points, or 0.5 pct, at 12,408.25, clawing back some losses in the afternoon after hitting a session low of 12,308.21.
For the week, the TSX was down less than 1 percent despite huge daily swings.
Five of the index’s top main sectors were negative, with energy stocks falling 0.6 percent.
After gaining more than 9 percent the previous session, Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ.TO) was down 1.3 percent to C$37.73.
The heavily weighted materials sector rallied late to finish up 0.2 percent, driven by Potash Corp (POT.TO), which rose 1.5 percent to C$48.89.
A day after its stock hit a seven-year low, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion’s RIM.TO shares rose 1.5 percent to C$19.31, helping to lead the Canadian information technology sector up 0.4 percent. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)