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Updated: Thu, 09 Jan 2014 09:13:17 GMT | By Malcolm Morrison, The Canadian Press, thecanadianpress.com

TSX to head higher ahead of jobs data

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market headed for a higher open Thursday morning as oil prices headed higher and traders looked to U.S. job creation data coming out Friday.


TSX to head higher ahead of jobs data

A tote board TSX numbers in Toronto, on Dec.31, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO - The Toronto stock market headed for a higher open Thursday morning as oil prices headed higher and traders looked to U.S. job creation data coming out Friday.

The Canadian dollar fell 0.43 of a cent to 92.13 cents US.

U.S. futures were higher as traders took in a strong reading on American jobless insurance claims.

The Dow Jones industrial futures gained 38 points to 16,445, the S&P 500 futures were ahead 3.75 points to 1,836.25 and the Nasdaq futures gained 3.7 points to 3,568.5.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that applications for jobless insurance fell by 15,000 last week to 330,000.

Traders hope that Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls report will provide some direction on how the U.S. Federal Reserve plans to proceed on further tapering to its key stimulus program, the massive monthly bond purchases. They were cut last month from $85 billion a month to $75 billion, making further cuts contingent on economic performance, particularly the job market.

U.S. markets finished in the red Wednesday after the minutes from the Fed meeting last month failed to provide any cluesas to how fast the Fed might proceed.

Data released Wednesday indicated that Friday's government employment report could exceed expectations that 195,000 jobs were created last month. Payroll firm ADP said that the U.S. private sector alone created 238,000 jobs in December.

Canadian jobs data also comes out on Friday with expectations that about 13,000 jobs were cranked out during December.

On the commodity markets, the February crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 47 cents to US$92.80 a barrel.

March copper lost three cents to US$3.31 a pound while February bullion gained $4.30 to US$1,229.80 an ounce.

On the earnings front, pharmacy chain The Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. (TSX:PJC.A) had $62.5 million of net income or 30 cents a share in its fiscal third quarter, an increase from $56.2 million a year earlier and two cents higher than analyst estimates. However, the Quebec-based pharmacy chain’s revenue were below estimates, falling to $712.5 million from $716.6 million.

Investors also looked to the release of earnings from resource giant Alcoa after the close.

In other corporate news, a spokesman with Canadian National Railways (TSX:CNR) says it appears a sudden wheel or axle failure caused a freight train to derail in northwestern New Brunswick, causing a large fire that continues to burn. Jim Feeny says the priority now is to extinguish the fire on three cars carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas, along with burning diesel.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (TSX:CNQ) has decided to keep the Montney shale gas assets that it put on the market early last year. The Calgary-based oil, gas and oilsands producer says it received “a number of expressions of interest” for the assets but none was sufficient to merit a deal at this time.

European bourses were lacklustre after the European Central Bank left its key interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.25 per cent.

London's FTSE 100 index added 0.03 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX inched up 0.04 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 dipped 0.23 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 1.5 per cent and China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.9 per cent.

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