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At the open: TSX lower as traders look to U.S. jobs data, euro zone aid

Swiftly-denied rumours of tax plans hammered Greek sovereign debt, and the selling spread across the euro zone periphery.


The Toronto stock market was lower Wednesday as traders anticipate the announcement of stimulus measures to help the euro zone recovery and look to American employment numbers coming out at the end of the week.

The S&P/TSX composite index fell 60.01 points to 14,674.68.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.12 of a cent to 91.54 cents (U.S.) ahead of the Bank of Canada's mid-morning announcement on interest rates.

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Traders also looked to data showing Canada's trade balance slipped into deficit territory during April. Statistics Canada said that Canada's merchandise exports declined 1.8 per cent while imports increased 1.4 per cent, taking Canada's trade balance with the world from a surplus of $766-million in March to a deficit of $638-million.

U.S. indexes were negative amid a disappointing read on private sector job creation during May.

The Dow Jones industrials were down 37.11 points to 16,685.23, the Nasdaq declined 16.88 points to 4,217.2 and the S&P 500 index was 5.41 points lower to 1,918.83.

Payroll firm ADP reported Wednesday that the U.S. private sector created 179,000 jobs during May, the fewest number in four months.

That reading came in two days before the release of the U.S. non-farm payrolls report for May. Economists have forecast that about 219,000 jobs were created during May following a much stronger expected 288,000 gain in April.

Canadian job figures for May also come out Friday and economists expect about 21,000 jobs were created after the economy shed 29,000 the previous month.

Meanwhile, markets are counting on European Central Bank president Mario Draghi to announce measures Thursday aimed at giving a lift to the euro zone's weak recovery and saving the region from falling into a deflationary spiral that would choke off growth. Worries about deflation increased Tuesday in the wake of data showing that inflation in the euro zone came in at 0.5 per cent in May, down from 0.7 per cent in April. The latest data also showed that gross domestic product in the euro zone grew by a paltry 0.2 per cent in the first quarter.

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Analysts are looking at a variety of options for the ECB, including an interest rate cut or a form of quantitative easing.

The base metals segment led decliners, down 1.5 per cent while July copper fell five cents to $3.09 (U.S.) a pound.

The energy sector gave back 0.37 per cent while the July crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 70 cents to $103.36 a barrel.

August bullion climbed $3 to $1,247.50 an ounce and the gold sector faded 0.12 per cent.

The financials sector also dragged, down 0.35 per cent.

But Laurentian Bank of Canada shares inched up six cents to $47.64 as the bank posted a lower second-quarter profit of $31-million or 99 cents a share, compared with a profit of $33.8-million or $1.05 per share in the same quarter a year ago. Adjusted profit came in at $1.29 a share, five cents ahead of estimates. Laurentian also upped its quarterly dividend by a penny to 52 cents per share.

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Elsewhere on the corporate front, WestJet says it flew 1.6 million passengers in May, a 5.1 per cent increase from the same time last year. That's increase of 77,000 passengers last month. The Calgary-based airline says it had a load factor of 79 per cent, up from 78.5 per cent year-over-year.

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