Toronto stock index posts gains on strong jobs data ahead of holiday

TORONTO — Strong jobs reports in Canada and the United States boosted the markets Friday, finishing the week on a positive note ahead of the long weekend.On Bay Street, the S&P/TSX composite index advanced 66.01 points to 15,257.97.Meanwhile on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average posted its eight straight record close, climbing 66.71 points to 22,092.81. The S&P 500 index added 4.67 points to 2,476.83 and the Nasdaq composite index gained 11.22 points to 6,351.56.“It’s been jobs Friday and jobs Friday is always the driver of that day when it comes to markets, commodities and currencies,” said Macan Nia, a senior investment strategist at Manulife Investments.Earlier in the day, Statistics Canada reported that the economy added 10,900 jobs in July, the eighth month in a row of employment growth.The unemployment rate fell to 6.3 per cent, a level not seen since October 2008, just before the global recession gripped Canada.U.S. stocks also rose following that country’s jobs report release, which showed employers added 209,000 jobs last month. July was the second consecutive month of strong hiring, suggesting that the U.S. economy is still growing steadily.Nia said the ideal situation for the markets is a so-called Goldilocks recovery where the pace of economic growth isn’t rapid enough to induce central banks to raise rates in quick succession and provide a headwind for capital markets.Growth in Canada and U.S. is slightly above average, he said, which allows central banks to be accommodating and is the best environment for capital markets.Friday’s jobs reports indicate the countries’ central banks are likely to raise rates one more time before the close of the year, Nia added.The likelihood of the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates once again in December has strengthened the greenback and weakened gold, he said.The Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 79.13 cents US, down 0.37 of a U.S. cent, while the December gold contract shed $9.80 to US$1,264.60 an ounce.Elsewhere in commodities, the September crude contract advanced 55 cents to US$49.58 per barrel, September natural gas declined 2.6 cents to about US$2.77 per mmBTU and September copper gained about one cent to roughly US$2.89 a pound.Canadian financial markets will be closed on Monday, Aug. 7 for the Civic Holiday, while U.S. financial markets will be open.By Aleksandra Sagan in Vancouver.Follow @AleksSagan on Twitter. read more