Canadian dollar up amid weak jobs report

A Canadian dollar, left, and a Euro are seen next to a series of U.S. dollars in this January 26, 2011 photo in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

TORONTO - The Canadian dollar was little changed Friday amid a disappointing read on American job creation.

The currency was up 0.06 of a cent to 101.18 cents US as the U.S. Labour Department reported that the economy created only 115,000 jobs during April, far less than the approximately 160,000 that economists expected. On the bright side, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 of a point to 8.1 per cent and revisions to the past two months added an additional 53,000 jobs.

Further signs of economic weakness that could erode demand pushed crude prices lower with the June contact on the New York Mercantile Exchange down $1.82 to US$100.72 a barrel.

Bullion prices advanced after four losing sessions with the June contract up $2.60 to US$1,637.40 an ounce.

Copper gained a penny to US$3.74.

Commodities have been under pressure this week amid weak manufacturing data from Europe and China.

Prices came under additional pressure Thursday as a key gauge of the performance of the U.S. non-manufacturing sector showed further expansion during April but at a slower pace than expected. The sector accounts for 90 per cent of the U.S. economy.

On Friday, traders also focused on weekend elections in France and Greece. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has for weeks looked like he would lose to his socialist rival Francois Hollande, but recent opinion polls suggest the election could be tighter than expected.

Though a change in leadership in Paris could prompt a change in the way Europe responds to the debt crisis that’s already seen three countries bailed out, the elections in Greece have the potential to prompt far more volatility once markets reopen on Monday.

That is because the traditional parties of right and left will not get anything like the level of support they have been used to. New Democracy and Pasok are backing the harsh terms of the most recent bailout, unlike many of the smaller parties that may well garner some support in Sunday’s elections.