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Deal-making, earnings and better than expected U.S. jobs data help boost TSX

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TORONTO - Deal-making, earnings news and U.S. jobs data that blew past expectations combined to push the Toronto stock market higher Friday.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained 101.08 points to 14,765.15.

The Canadian dollar moved down 0.16 of a cent to 91.07 cents US.

New York indexes had a muted response to data showing that the American economy cranked out 288,000 jobs in April. Economists had expected growth of around 200,000. Also, the jobless rate fell from 6.7 per cent to 6.3 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrials fell 45.98 points to 16,512.89, the Nasdaq was down 3.55 points to 4,123.9 and the S&P 500 index dipped 2.54 points to 1,881.14.

But the news wasn't all good: the labour force participation rate fell to just 62.8 per cent in April from 63.2 per cent and there was a decline of 73,000 in employment.

"That would be sort of the fly in the ointment," said Luciano Orengo, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management.

"What the low participation rate tells you is that . . . people are sort of dropping out. But the reality is that the 288,000 jobs were created, it’s the best month since January 2012 and the second-best month since the economy came back from recession in mid-2009."

Some analysts attributed the tepid session in New York to nervousness over the worsening situation in Ukraine. The UN Security Council met Friday in emergency session after Russia called for a meeting on the growing crisis there.

Ukraine’s acting president says pro-Russia insurgents have suffered significant losses, including many killed and injured, after his government launched an offensive on the eastern city of Slovyansk.

There was some major deal-making in the media sector as Torstar Corp. (TSX:TS.B), owner of the Toronto Star and other newspapers, said it was selling the Harlequin book publishing company for $455 million to News Corp. The company, best known for its romance novels, will be run as a division of News Corp. subsidiary HarperCollins Publishers. Torstar shares jumped $1.47 or 22.01 per cent to $8.15.

SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) shares ran ahead $2.52 or 5.08 per cent to $52.14 as the engineering giant said that it is selling AltaLink, Alberta’s largest regulated electricity transmission company, to a subsidiary of the holding company run by U.S. financier Warren Buffett for gross proceeds of $3.2 billion.

In earnings news, Westport Innovations Inc. (TSX:WPT) a maker of advanced natural gas engines and systems, says its quarterly net loss fell to US$23.9 million or 38 cents per share from US$31.8 million or 57 cents per share a year ago. Revenue grew 39 per cent to US$41.9 million and its shares jumped $3.45 or 24.31 per cent to $17.64.

TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) shares dipped a penny to $51.17 as the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project said it earned $412 million or 58 cents a share in its latest quarter as revenue grew nearly 30 per cent to $2.88 billion. Ex-items, TransCanada said its comparable earnings for the quarter came in a $422 million or 60 cents per share, up from $370 million or 52 cents per share a year ago.

On the commodity markets, the gold sector climbed about 2.35 per cent as growing tensions over Ukraine sent June bullion $19.50 higher to US$1,302.90 an ounce.

June crude in New York gained 34 cents to US$99.76 a barrel and the energy sector rose 0.9 per cent.

The base metals component was the weakest sector, off 0.09 per cent even while July copper was up five cents to US$3.07 a pound.

The Toronto stock market finished with a gain of 1.59 per cent for the week, boosted by the deal-making and positive earnings reports from the energy, industrial and technology sectors. The Dow industrials edged up 0.92 per cent.

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