WRAPUP 3-Canada suffers jobs setback in Feb; Jan trade gap narrows
* Economy loses 7,000 jobs in Feb; forecast was for gain of 15,000
* Jobless rate unchanged at 7.0 percent
* January trade deficit narrows to C$177 mln ($161 mln)
* Mixed signals on economy from both reports
By Louise Egan
OTTAWA, March 7 (Reuters) - The Canadian economy unexpectedly lost 7,000 jobs in February, giving little reason for the Bank of Canada to change its neutral stance on interest rates after strong hiring in January had raised hopes of renewed vigor in the labor market.
Statistics Canada's employment report, released on Friday, was mixed, showing a sizeable increase in full-time jobs which was offset by the disappearance of even more part-time positions. Private sector hiring was strong, but overshadowed by 50,700 job losses in the public sector, one of the biggest downturns in that sector since 2008. The services sector was hardest hit.
The unemployment rate held steady at 7.0 percent. Continued...