Opening Bell: Markets muted despite solid U.S. jobs report

Strong employment numbers out of the U.S. weren’t enough to bolster investors’ spirits Friday morning.

North American markets first hovered around even on open before dipping into negative territory. The Dow was down about 23 points while the TSX lost about 31.

Here is a look at what the markets were doing just after the opening bell on Friday, January 6:

The Dow Jones lost 23.16 points, or 0.19%, to 12,392.54
The S&P 500 lost 3.76 points, or 0.29%, to 1,277.30
The Nasdaq lost 4.40 points, or 0.16%, to 2,665.46
The S&P/TSX lost 31.34 points, or 0.26%, to 12,206.06

The Canadian economy added 17,500 jobs in December, coming in under an expected 20,000. As more people also started looking for work, the unemployment rate increased to 7.5% from 7.4% in November.

But south of the border, more proof that the labour market is on the road to recovery, with 200,000 new non-farm jobs added last month, beating expectations for a gain of 150,000 and sending the unemployment rate down to 8.5%.

Signs of an improving U.S. economy are giving oil a boost, with the commodity looking set to cruise to a weekly gain. Tensions with Iran and possible disruption of supply are also adding to the increase.

Crude futures were up 0.55% to US$102.37 a barrel in New York just before 9 a.m.

The Reuters-Jefferies CRB benchmark commodity index was up 0.34% in early trade and gold futures picked up 0.18% to US$1,623.00 an ounce this morning.

The loonie lost ground after the Canadian labour report slipping to US$0.9797 by 9:30 a.m.

European shares liked the U.S. data. The FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.59% by midday, sloughing off news of weaker than expected German industrial orders.

In tech news, Siri, the personal assistant iPhone 4S users can’t get enough of, seems to be doubling data usage, putting strains on wireless networks.

Elsewhere, as hearings begin in British Columbia on the Northern Gateway pipeline project, the risk of a spill is in focus as the top concern.

Finally, from today’s FP Energy page, Yadullah Hussain reports on the search for shale gas that’s set to go global amid questions about the hydraulic fracturing process used to harness the resource.

For more morning commentary, check out our regular “Before the markets open” feature

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