TSX flat as traders look to debt ceiling negotiations

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was little changed Friday following a strong advance the previous session as traders took a wait-and-see attitude on where negotiations go on extending the U.S. debt limit.The S&P/TSX composite index edged up 1.26 points to 12,895.67, pressured by falling gold stocks as optimism about ending the U.S. government impasse pushed bullion sharply lower.The Canadian dollar was off 0.01 of a cent to 96.21 cents US as job creation for September narrowly beat modest expectations and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since December 2008.Statistics Canada said job creation came in at 11,900 last month while the jobless rate fell 0.2 of a point to 6.9% as fewer young people looked for work. Economists had been looking for the economy to have created about 10,000 jobs, after cranking out almost 60,000 in August.U.S. indexes were generally little changed after big gains Thursday with the Dow Jones industrials up 10.66 points to 15,136.73, the Nasdaq was ahead 2.51 points to 3,763.25 and the S&P 500 index was off 0.22 of a point at 1,692.34.North American markets surged after Republican House Speaker John Boehner proposed extending the debt limit through Nov. 22, conditioned on President Barack Obama agreeing to negotiate over spending cuts and the government shutdown.The S&P/TSX jumped 164 points and the Dow industrials 323 points on Thursday as hopes rose that the U.S. will avoid a possible default after the current borrowing limit expires next Thursday.The president conferred with Boehner and other GOP House leaders on Thursday. They reported no agreement but said talks would continue.Obama planned a White House meeting with GOP senators on Friday. Senate Republicans say they want to discuss ideas for ending the partial U.S. government shutdown and debt limit standoff.Financials led TSX advancers with Sun Life Financial (TSX:SLF) ahead 31 cents at $33.64.Oil prices fell with the November crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange down $2.09 to US$100.92 a barrel. The energy sector rose 0.24%.Moody’s Investor Services has cut Talisman Energy’s (TSX:TLM) rating outlook to negative from stable. Moody’s said the downgrade reflects the uncertain outcome of the portfolio transformation taking place under the company’s strategic repositioning.The change in outlook comes just days after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a six per cent stake in the company and Talisman shares slipped a penny to $12.72.The gold sector was the weakest component, down almost two per cent as December bullion faded $31.20 to US$1,265.70 an ounce. Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX) dropped 37 cents to $18.17.Base metal stocks also pressured the TSX as December copper was down two cents at US$3.23 a pound. Teck Resources (TSX:TCK.B) shed 22 cents to $26.51.In corporate news, fertilizer giant Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (TSX:POT) (NYSE:POT) is reducing its earnings guidance for the third quarter to reflect lower sales. The company says earnings per diluted share now are expected to come in at about 41 cents, down from the 45 to 60 cents per share it predicted back in July. Potash shares lost 29 cents to $32.68 in early tradingon the TSX.On the earnings front, JPMorgan Chase, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, is reporting a surprise third-quarter loss after a big charge for legal expenses. The bank lost US$400-million or 17 cents a share in the quarter, compared with a then-record $5.7-billion profit a year earlier.Analyst had expected earnings of the $1.19 a share. Revenue fell eight per cent, to US$23.9-billion, missing analysts’ estimate of $24.1-billion but its shares were ahead 1.4% in pre-market trading. JPMorgan shares gained 66 cents to US$53.18.European bourses were mixed with London’s FTSE 100 index up 0.75%, Frankfurt’s DAX rose 0.3% and the Paris CAC 40 dipped 0.08%.Earlier, Asian markets advanced in the slipstream of Thursday’s developments. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average rose 1.5%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.2%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.6% and China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.7%.

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