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Stocks higher as traders balance strong jobs data with Fed stimulus concerns

Canada’s main stock market index was higher Friday amid jobs data in Canada and the U.S. that breezed past expectations.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 41.02 points to 13,335.22.The loonie was down 0.24 of a cent to 95.35 cents US after Statistics Canada reported that the economy created 13,200 jobs last month while the jobless rate held steady at 6.9 per cent. Economists had expected that about 11,000 jobs would  be created.The greenback was sharply higher after the U.S. Labor Department reported that the economy cranked out 204,000 jobs, far above the approximately 120,000 reading that was expected.Gains in New York gained momentum as traders balanced the latest indication of an improving economy with rising concerns that the Federal Reserve will think the economy is strengthening to a point where it can start winding up its US$85 billion of monthly bond purchases. That stimulus program has supported a strong rally on markets.The Dow Jones industrials rose 75.97 points to 15,669.95, the Nasdaq climbed 34.99 points to 3,892.33 and the S&P 500 index was ahead 9.7 points to 1,756.85.The jobless rate ticked up 0.1 of a point to 7.3 per cent, reflecting the huge temporary layoffs that resulted from the partial U.S. government shutdown during early October.Economists had pointed out that the employment report would likely be distorted somewhat by the shutdown. Almost half a million federal workers were furloughed during the shutdown and many thousands of other private sector workers who rely on federal contract work were also affected.The strong employment data came out a day after a better than expected reading on third quarter U.S. economic growth also raised worries that the Fed could start to taper as soon as the end of December.It was a relatively quiet day on the earnings front where Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) posted adjusted net income rose of $365 million, an increase of nearly 60 per cent compared with that same time last year. The adjusted earnings amounted to $1.29 per share, which was 26 cents per share above analyst estimates of $1.03 per share.Under standard accounting, Air Canada had $299 million or $1.05 per share of net income, also above estimates but down from last year. Its shares surged 39 cents or 6.98 per cent to $5.98 after hitting a fresh, 52-week high of $6.19, highs not seen since before the 2008 recession.Telus Corp. (TSX:T) rose 28 cents to $36.56 as the telecom reported its adjusted profit jumped to $365 million in the third quarter, up 13 per cent from a year earlier. On a per-share basis, Telus had 58 cents per share of adjusted earnings, two cents better than the estimate. Revenue was up 3.6 per cent from last year, rising to $1.87 billion.The gold sector led decliners, down 1.7 per cent as bullion prices fell sharply on speculation the Fed could start winding up bond purchases and the December bullion contract was $24.10 lower to US$1,284.40 an ounce. Goldcorp (TSX:G) fell 35 cents to C$25.16.The metals and mining sector fell 0.6 per cent with December copper down one cent to US$3.23 a pound. HudBay Minerals(TSX:HBM) slipped 32 cents to $8.42.The interest rate sensitive utilities sector was a drag as U.S. bond yields moved up sharply on Fed speculation with the key U.S. 10-year Treasury up 0.14 of a point from Thursday at 2.74 per cent. Atlantic Power (TSX:ATP) tumbled 43 cents or 9.47 per cent to $4.11.Financials led advancers as Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC) gained 51 cents to $19.73, a penny short of a new 52-week high of $19.74 registered earlier in the session.The tech sector was also ahead with BlackBerry shares up 12 cents to $6.89 a day after Fairfax Financial (TSX:FFH) revealed the names of the five other investors in its US$1-billion financing of the smartphone maker. Mackenzie Financial Corp., Canso Investment Counsel Ltd., Markel Corp., Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and Qatar Holding LLC have also contributed.December crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange edged up 18 cents to US$94.38 a barrel and the energy sector rose 0.6 per cent.There was also major acquisition activity in the resource sector as Talisman Energy Inc. (TSX:TLM) reached a deal to sell its interests in two B.C. natural gas partnerships for $1.5 billion in cash. The buyer is Progress Energy Corp., a formerly independent Canadian company that’s now a subsidiary of Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas.Talisman has said for months that it planned to sell a large chunk of its assets in order to be more efficient and profitable. Its shares ran up 25 cents to $12.47. read more