August 1, 2008 / 3:18 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toronto stocks little changed as jitters persist

*Energy stocks higher amid oil price rise

*U.S. jobs data better-than-expected

*Tech major Nortel slumps after quarterly report

TORONTO, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange’s main index was little changed on Friday morning as persistent jitters over the global economic outlook undercut a rise in energy shares and rosier than expected U.S. jobs data.

Oil and gas shares were up 1.6 percent as the price of oil reversed course and rose to about $127 a barrel. EnCana (ECA.TO) was up C$1.48, or 2 percent, at C$75.38.

The number of U.S. jobs eliminated in July was lower than expected, which helped spark an early rally in Toronto, but unemployment rose to its highest level in more than four years.

“It’s a little sigh of relief,” said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds of the data.

“If people are expecting the worst and the news is less bad that little, itty-bitty of positive can spark a bit of a rally.”

The U.S. jobs data came one day after a report that showed soft U.S. growth, which revived concerns of a recession.

At midmorning, the S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE was down 12.16 points, or 0.1 percent, at 13,580.75, after popping higher at the open. Five of its 10 main groups were lower.

Weighing on markets on both sides of the border was a $15.5 billion loss reported by General Motors Corp (GM.N) (GM.N).

Telecom equipment maker Nortel reported a quarterly loss that tripled from the same time last year, hurt by restructuring charges and currency exchange. It also warned that a tough U.S. market is continuing to constrict wireless spending by carriers.

Shares of Nortel were down 16.6 percent at C$6.54.

The heavyweight financial-services sector was down 0.7 percent as nervous investors digested the latest U.S. economic data.

Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) slipped 0.5 percent to C$47.00. ($1=$1.03 Canadian) (Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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