Toronto - Canada's main stock index closed lower Thursday, hampered by weakness in the financial and health sectors before the U.S. employment report was released.
The July non-farm employment data, due to be released on Friday, is seen as a barometer of economic health and could affect the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decisions.
"What we see today is a fairly wide range of sales. Investors seem a little nervous before tomorrow's U.S. employment report comes out, "said Youssef Zohny, portfolio manager at Richardson GMP Ltd. Stennerzohny Investment Partners, which manages about $28.3 billion in assets.
"Investors are looking for products that are close to expectations, but any product that exceeds or falls below expectations can cause market concerns," he added.
The S&P/TSX composite index of the Toronto Stock Exchange fell 97.08 points, or 0.67%, to 14405.91. Seven of the 10 major plates in the index are red.
The energy sector accounted for 19 per cent of the index's weight, up 1.6 per cent, to get rid of the impact of the fall in U.S. crude oil prices, because of global oversupply, production showed little sign of falling.
Suncor Energy rose 0.5% to $37.51. Canadian Natural Resources rose 1.5 percent to $32.81 after the country's largest independent oil producer reported better-than-expected adjusted earnings after falling production costs. Some earnings reports have also affected stock movements.
Barrick Gold Corp. shares rose 4 percent to $8.99 after it said it was moving toward ambitious debt reduction targets, announced a financing agreement for its Dominican mine and planned to sell a set of U.S. assets.
Sun Life Financial Inc. rose 5.4 percent to $45.17 after the insurer reported quarterly profits that exceeded market expectations.
TMX Group, operator of Toronto Stock Exchange, fell 5.6 percent to $47.14 after the company reported lower-than-expected quarterly profits, which were affected by declining revenue from issuer services and cash market transactions.
In the financial sector, Nova Scotia fell 1.9% to $62.63. Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. fell 6%, dragging down the healthcare industry.