The Toronto stock market was lower for a third day ahead of the holiday weekend despite data showing solid job creation in Canada last month.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 65.88 points to greet noon at 12,112.78
The Canadian dollar picked up 0.36 to 100.73 cents U.S.
Commodity prices and resource stocks recovered some of the losses incurred this week but the gold sector was down, as Barrick Gold Corp. faded 54 cents to $40.62 while Goldcorp Inc. declined 44 cents to $40.54.
The financial sector was down as National Bank dropped 80 cents to $78.65 and TD Bank gave back 52 cents to $83.18.
The telecom sector lost ground as Rogers Communications eased 36 cents to $39.57.
Tech stocks were also weak, with Celestica Inc. off nine cents at $9.39.
The energy sector was ahead with Suncor Energy down 15 cents at $31.11 and Talisman Energy ahead 10 cents to $12.65.
Copper was up two cents to $3.81 U.S. a pound after sliding 13 cents on Wednesday, helping the base metals sector rise after it sustained bruising losses the previous few days. Teck Resources was up 63 cents at $36.30 and First Quantum Minerals climbed $1.61 to $19.99.
On the corporate front, Harry Winston Diamond Corp. shares were down 39 cents to $14.12 after it reported 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.
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 12.62 points to 1,486.52, while the Nasdaq Canada index slipped 1.56 points to 401.11
All but two of the 14 Toronto subgroups were lower by midday. Gold fell back 1.3%, materials dipped 0.8%, while information technology was 0.7% to the bad.
The two stalwarts were metals and mining, up 2.4%, and global base metals, up 0.6%.
In New York, stocks drifted between small gains and losses Thursday amid renewed worries about Europe and signs of improvement in the U.S. job market.
The Dow Jones Industrials stepped back 4.54 points in the lead-up to noon, at 13,070.20
The S&P 500 deducted 0.54 points to 1,398.42, and the Nasdaq gained back 13.22 points to 3,081.31
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%.
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.
Meanwhile, demand for U.S. Treasurys rebounded Thursday after prices fell sharply earlier in the week.
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 2.18% from Tuesday's 2.24%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for May delivery regained $1.21 to $102.68 U.S. a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $14.50 to $1,628.60 U.S. an ounce.