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HomeBusiness ReportAFTER THE BELL: Markets fall on slumping Canadian housing growth, oil plunge,...

AFTER THE BELL: Markets fall on slumping Canadian housing growth, oil plunge, disappointing U.S. jobs data

A slowdown in housing growth overshadowed a somewhat robust jobs report, causing the TSX to skid today.

The TSX lost 60 points, with a couple of key factors at play on Bay Street.

The first was Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation report showing that housing starts trended lower in February.

Canadian housing starts dipped to 203,554 units in February, compared to 207,742 units in January. The CMHC says higher mortgage rates combined with weaker economic conditions have contributed to softer demand on new home markets in urban centres.

Meanwhile, the nation added nearly 56,000 jobs in February, driven by gains in full-time work. Coupled with January’s addition of 66,800 jobs, this marks the strongest two-month start of the year since 1981.

On the other hand, the unemployment rate remained status quo at 5.8 percent as more people looked for jobs.

A sharp dip in oil prices also factored into a down day on the exchange.

Oil was off by 68 cents to $55.98 US a barrel, driven lower by a weak U.S. jobs report and a downturn in Chinese exports and imports.

A drop in crude prices pushed down the TSX’s energy sector, which led the index’s losses by declining 2.1 percent.

In New York, the Dow pared losses near the close but still ended up 22 points in the red while the Nasdaq edged down by 13 points, with gloomy U.S. employment data heightening investors’ fears over a slowing economy stateside.

America’s economy added a paltry 20,000 jobs in February, far below the 180,000 gain that economists had predicted.

Both gold and the Canadian dollar traded higher today. Gold made a massive jump, moving up $13.40 to $1,299 an ounce while the loonie strengthened by 23/100ths of a cent to $0.7454 US.

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