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At the open: Markets flat amid Ukraine deal, jobs numbers

Ukrainian army soldiers wait to go to the front line on an armoured vehicle as pro-Russian separatists fire heavy artillery, on the outskirts of the key southeastern port city of Mariupol, on September 5, 2014.


The Toronto stock market was little changed Friday, amid a ceasefire agreement in Ukraine and disappointing job numbers in Canada and the U.S.

The S&P/TSX composite index was up 1.42 points to 15,578.21.

There was also little movement on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrials down 16.67 points to 17,052.91, while the Nasdaq gained 1.65 points to 4,563.94. The S&P 500 index saw an uptick of 1.33 of a point to 1,996.32.

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a cease-fire Friday to end nearly five months of fighting after reaching a deal with Russian-backed rebels.

He ordered government forces to stop hostilities at 11 a.m. EDT following an agreement signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the rebels and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

Since mid-April, Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting government troops in eastern Ukraine in a conflict the United Nations estimates has killed nearly 2,600 people.

Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar dipped 0.03 of a cent to 91.93 cents (U.S.), as Statistics Canada reported that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at seven per cent in August with a total of 11,000 jobs lost.

Economists had expected the economy to add 10,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate to remain at 7.0 per cent.

The number of private-sector employees fell by 112,000 in August while self-employment rose by 87,000. The number of public-sector employees rose by 14,000 in August.

BMO chief economist Doug Porter said it was yet more evidence that the Canadian economy is struggling to churn out meaningful job growth and offered more fodder for the Bank of Canada to stay with its neutral stance on interest rates.

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"In this environment of productivity-led growth, the Bank of Canada will continue to feel zero urgency about talking about raising rates, let alone actually raising them," Porter said.

It was a similarly disappointing jobs report in the U.S.

The U.S. Labor Department says employers added just 142,000 jobs in August, ending a six-month streak of hiring above 200,000 and posting the smallest gain in eight months.

Economists had forecast that the American economy created about 220,000 jobs last month.

The department says the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 per cent from 6.2 per cent, but the rate dropped because fewer Americans were working or seeking jobs.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has been carefully watching the release of the monthly job numbers as a sign to see if the economy is improving at a good pace and when it can start raising interest rates.

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On the commodity markets, the October crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange up seven cents to $94.52 (U.S.) a barrel. December bullion jumped 30 cents to $1,266.80 an ounce, while December copper was unchanged at $3.15 a pound.

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