Canadian stocks opened lower on Thursday morning, as investors weigh rising borrowing costs in Spain against an upbeat report on U.S. initial jobless claims.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 43.83 points to begin the session at 12,134.83
The Canadian dollar picked up 0.45 to 100.82 cents U.S.
Among Canadian stocks, commodity producers remained weak: Suncor Energy Inc. fell 1.3% and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 0.4%.
On the corporate front, Harry Winston Diamond Corp. reports consolidated fourth-quarter net profit attributable to shareholders of $16.6 million U.S. or 19 cents per diluted share, compared with $13.7 million U.S. or 16 cents in the prior-year period. Consolidated sales for the three months ended Jan. 31 were $216 million U.S., up from $215.4 million U.S.
Fibrek Inc.is asking the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on the defence it has used to fend off a hostile takeover. At issue is the Quebec company's decision to issue special warrants to its ally, Mercer International Inc., to thwart a takeover by Resolute Forest Products.
In the economic docket, Canada's jobs number soared in March, with 82,000 new jobs created, most of them full-time, while the jobless rate fell two-10ths of a percentage point to 7.2%.
Elsewhere, Statistics Canada told us that building permits rose 7.5% to $6.5 billion in February, following an 11.4% decline in January.
The TSX Venture Exchange fell 9.17 points to 1,487.67, while the Nasdaq Canada index regained 0.89 points to 403.25
All but three of the 14 Toronto subgroups were lower to start the day. Financials were off 0.7%, telecoms were down 0.6%, and information technology slid 0.4%.
The three gainers were metals and mining, up 2.6%, global base metals, ahead 1%, and materials, inching up 0.04%.
In New York, stocks fell early Thursday, taking their cue from world markets on the final trading session of the week, as worries about the European debt crisis bubbled up.
The Dow Jones Industrials slipped 20.17 points soon after the opening bell to 13,054.60
The S&P 500 deducted 0.72 points to 1,398.24, and the Nasdaq erased 1.79 points to 3,066.30
A lukewarm Spanish debt auction Wednesday raised concerns about the country's ability to meet its 2012 budget deficit target. The yield on 10-year Spanish bonds jumped to 5.8% Thursday, marking the highest level in more than three months.
Shares of wine company Constellation Brands fell after the company reported a drop in revenue and weak guidance for the upcoming fiscal year.
Pier 1 Imports and Carmax reported earnings and revenue roughly in line with analyst expectations.
Macy's shares rose after the company reported that its same-store for the month of March had increased 7%. Fellow retailer Bed Bath & Beyond gained after announcing a 7% increase in quarterly same-store sales.
Clothing sellers Gap Inc and TJX Companies Inc were up on strong same-store sales.
Costco's same-store sales for March in the U.S. increased by 6%. Limited said its March store sales increased 8%.
Economically speaking, initial jobless claims for the week ended March 31 totaled 357,000, the government reported before Thursday's open, compared with analyst expectations of 355,000.
Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said planned job cuts declined to roughly 38,000 in March, the lowest since May of last year.
Looking ahead, the U.S. Labor Department is scheduled to release the latest update on job growth and the unemployment rate on Friday morning.
Economists expect that report to show employers added 200,000 jobs in March and the unemployment rate fell to 8.2%. In February, the economy added 227,000 jobs.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury gained ground, driving yields down to 2.20% from Tuesday's 2.24%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery regained 53 cents to $102 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $10.80 to $1,624.90 U.S. an ounce.