Toronto's main stock index was slightly lower on Thursday as investors weighed further weak jobs data from the United States against stronger-than-expected quarterly results from Manulife, Canada's largest life insurer.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index gave back 77.16 points to open at 12,152.96
The Canadian dollar shed 0.05 cents to 101.33 cents U.S.
Shares of BCE Inc. rose almost 1%, after the country's biggest communications company reported that first quarter profit grew by 14%
Manulife Financial shares jumped 4% after the company reported first-quarter profit of $1.2 billion and announced that it had found a new chief financial officer.
Shares of Gildan Activewear Inc. increased almost 4%, after the company posted better-than-expected quarterly numbers and said it would acquire T-shirt maker and distributor Anvil Holdings Inc. for $88 million U.S., giving Gildan a stronger presence in the U.S.
The TSX Venture Exchange retreated 7.60 points to 1,423.61, while the Nasdaq Canada fell 8.78 points to 400.27.
All but three of the 14 subgroups faded. Gold lost 2.1% of its luster, while information technology stocks clicked 1.9% less, and materials slid 1.6%.
The three gainers were real-estate, up only 0.4%, telecoms, inching up 0.04%, and financials, eking out a gain of 0.02%.
U.S. equities opened little changed Thursday, as investors welcomed a better-than-expected jobless claims report but remained cautious ahead of Friday's monthly jobs report.
The Dow Jones Industrials ducked down 32.62 points to begin the day at 13,235.95.
The S&P 500 dipped 4.69 points to 1,397.62.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 11.84 to 3,048.01.
Investors were encouraged by the latest weekly initial jobless claims report, as fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. While the decline is a welcome sign after claims had previously risen four weeks in a row, investors remain wary ahead of Friday's crucial monthly jobs data.
Economists surveyed by CNNMoney expect the U.S. Labor Department's data to show 160,000 jobs added in April. The unemployment rate is not expected to fall beyond its current 8.2%
Investors also continued to sort through a deluge of first-quarter corporate results. General Motors reported strong first-quarter earnings on good results in its domestic market, but its bottom line took a hit from rising losses and special charges in Europe.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters shares plummeted more than 40% after the company reported quarterly revenue that missed estimates and lowered its guidance for 2012.
Economically speaking, Initial jobless claims for the week ended April 28 totaled 365,000, according to the Labor Department, which was less than expected.
Jobless claims were forecast to total 375,000, according to a survey of economists by Briefing.com -- an improvement from the revised figure of 392,000 in the week prior.
Economists are forecasting that Friday's report will show employers added 160,000 jobs to payrolls in April, but that the unemployment rate will remain unchanged at 8.2%.
A report on private-sector hiring from payroll processor ADP came in weaker than expected on Wednesday. And Thursday morning, the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that job cuts rose to 40,559 in April -- an increase of 7% from March and of 11% from a year ago.
Also on Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management Services index for April is expected to come in at 55.5, down from 56.0 in March.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury edged lower, pushing the yield up to 1.95% from 1.92% late Wednesday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
The price of a barrel of oil dipped 30 cents to $104.92 U.S.
Gold was down $9.30 to $1,644.70 U.S. an ounce