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TORONTO - North American stock markets moved higher Friday after a surprise improvement in the U.S. jobless rate helped the Dow Jones industrials break through 15,000 for the first time.
The gains came after the U.S. Labour Department said employers added 165,000 jobs in April, while both February and March numbers were also better than first thought. The combination trimmed the U.S. unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 per cent.
On Wall Street, the Dow was up 136.92 points at 14,968.50, after rising about 15,000 earlier in the session. The Nasdaq rose 37.28 points to 3,377.91 and the S
The Canadian dollar was ahead 0.07 of a cent at 99.25 cents US.
In commodities, the June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose $1.62 to US$95.61 a barrel.
TSX base metals stocks led the market up 2.9 per cent as July copper gained 21 cents to US$3.31 a pound. June gold bullion was off $3.40 at US$1,464.20 an ounce.
In earnings, Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) says it narrowed its net loss to $260 million or 95 cents per diluted share in the first quarter. That was down from a net loss of $274 million or 99 cents per share in the same 2012 quarter. Air Canada shares fell 19 cents to $2.69.
BlackBerry (TSX:BB) says the U.S. Department of Defence has approved its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones and PlayBook tablets for use on its networks, a key security approval for the technology company. Shares rose 16 cents to $15.99.
Rona Inc. (TSX:RON) has hired Alain Brisebois, a 30-year veteran of the retail industry who previously worked at Alimentation Couche-Tard, to be its chief commercial officer and senior vice-president of operations. Shares rose 35 cents to $10.50.
European markets also fed off the soaring U.S. markets after gains had been limited earlier in the day when the European Union downgraded its economic forecast for the region. In its spring update, the EU said it expected the 17-country eurozone's economy to shrink 0.4 per cent this year, 0.1 percentage points worse than its February prediction.