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TSX heads for weak open as oil prices slide, traders await key employment data

An electronic board displays currency rates in Toronto's financial district on April 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market headed for a weak open Friday amid a sharp slide in oil prices and worries that the global economy is slowing faster than previously thought.

The tone for trading will likely be set by the latest American snapshot on job creation, when the government releases the June non-farm payrolls report an hour before the market opens. Hopes are modest with economists expecting the economy cranked out around 90,000 jobs last month.

Statistics Canada will also announce its report on the June employment rate. It's hoped that Statistics Canada will announce that the economy created around 5,000 jobs during June.

The Canadian dollar was lower ahead of the two reports, off 0.07 of a cent to 98.51 cents US.

U.S. futures were weak ahead of the jobs data with the Dow Jones industrial futures down five points to 12,827, the Nasdaq futures slipped two points to 2,640.5 and the S&P 500 futures off 1.7 points to 1,359.7.

Energy stocks could lead declines as crude prices fell sharply despite interest rate cuts announced Thursday by the European and Chinese central banks. The August crude contract fell $1.93 to US$85.29 a barrel after International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Friday that the fund will cut its forecast for global economic growth in a quarterly assessment to be released later this month.

She did not say which nations or regions were contributing to the lowered assessment for 2012 and declined to give more details.

Growth in most major economies has showed signs of slowing in recent months, partly due to Europe’s chronic debt crisis and economic malaise.

Metal prices also fell with the September copper contract on the Nymex off three cents to US$3.47 a pound. Bullion backed off $14.90 to US$1,594.50.

The TSX fell just shy of 100 points Thursday as early relief over the central bank action faded after data showed the U.S. service sector moved closer to contraction last month. Another report showed larger retailers missing expectations last month. The drop snapped a six session positive run that saw the TSX jump more than five per cent.

European bourses were listless with London's FTSE 100 index unchanged, Frankfurt's DAX lost 0.36 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 backed off 0.44 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, markets had their first chance to respond to Thursday’s central bank moves, and in particular the People’s Bank of China’s surprise decision to cut interest rates again for the second time in a month.

As in Europe and the U.S., the response was lackluster as investors worried that the rate cut was a signal from the Chinese monetary authorities that the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy may be more pronounced than already thought.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was marginally lower, South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.9 per cent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.3 per cent while China’s Shanghai Composite added one per cent.

In corporate news, Pengrowth Energy Corp. (TSX:PGF) is reducing its monthly dividend payments to shareholders by 43 per cent to four cents a share starting next month. The Calgary-based company says it’s making the change due to weak commodity prices and increased uncertainty in the capital and property markets.

Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) says Tony Ingram has resigned as a director, the third departure from the CP board since the Calgary-based company's annual meeting in May. As a result of the departures and the addition of Hunter Harrison as director and chief executive officer of the company, the nominees put forward by Pershing Square have a majority on the 14-member board of directors.

Network technology company Sandvine Corp. (TSX:SVC) had a loss of US$4.2-million or three cents a share in its second quarter. But the bad news was tempered by more than $2 million in orders from one of the top 10 telecom providers in the United States, but it didn’t identify the customer. Sandvine had US$18.6 million in revenue for the three-month period.

In the U.S., Houston-based power company Dynegy Inc. has filed for bankruptcy protection after years of wrestling with falling electricity prices. The company, which operates in the Midwest, Northeast and the West, tried to buy Enron in 2001 before that company’s collapse. Dynegy is wrestling with debts of more than US$5 billion.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had an incorrect estimate for Canadian jobs.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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