Markets mixed on disappointing data

North American markets were mixed Thursday amid a round of disappointing reports that suggest the U.S. economy is not recovering as much as some would like to believe.The S&P/TSX composite index jumped 74.83 points to 12,548.48, making up for some losses after it plunged more than 100 points at the close on Wednesday.The Canadian dollar fell 0.07 of a cent to 98.24 cents US.The Dow Jones index gave up an early gain to fall 13.75 points to 15,261.94 and the S&P 500 was down 2.59 points to 1,656.19 in late morning trade. Both had enjoyed record high closes this week.The Nasdaq was up 3.28 points to 3,474.90, boosted by a climb in share price for network computer-maker Cisco who had a strong earnings report after the close.The downward pull on Wall Street came amid a flurry of weaker-than-expected economic figures.“It does reflect a confluence of factors and some of it’s the system drag we’ve been looking for and you’re seeing creeping into the economy,” said Bob Gorman, a chief portfolio strategist with TD Wealth Management.“It isn’t the end of the world, but I do think it brings people back to the reality of the situation — that we have below average growth, not horrific but not great. And I think the market is reacting in a very muted fashion.”The U.S. Labor Department reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose by 32,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, the most since late March. The jump comes after applications fell to a five-year low.The department said the less volatile four-week average rose just 1,250 to 339,250, a level consistent with modest hiring. The U.S. economy added an average of 208,000 jobs a month since November, an increase from 138,000 a month in the previous six months. Still, much of the job gains have come from fewer layoffs — not increased hiring.It also reported that consumer prices last month also fell last month, as a result of a 8.1 per cent drop in gas pries.The consumer price index was down 0.4 per cent in April from March. For the 12 months that ended in April, overall prices rose 1.1 per cent — the smallest year-over-year increase in 2 1/2 years.The rate is below the U.S. Federal Reserve’s two per cent inflation target, allowing the central bank to continue with its aggressive stimulus monetary program. Worries about lower inflation or even deflation might push the Fed to step up its low interest-rate policies to stimulate more borrowing and spending and push prices higher.Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said U.S. builders broke ground on far fewer homes in April, one month after topping the one million mark for the first time since 2008. Applications for new construction rose to a five-year peak, evidence that the housing revival will be sustained.U.S. builders started construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 853,000 in April, a 16.5 per cent drop from the March pace of 1.02 million. Applications for building permits rose 14.3 per cent to a rate of 1.02 million, the highest since June 2008.Meanwhile, the world’s largest retailer reported that its first-quarter profit rose 1.1 per cent as it struggled with a sales slump in its namesake business. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., blamed a payroll tax increase, delayed tax refunds and bad weather for the profit and sales results that missed Wall Street expectations. It also offered a profit outlook that came below analysts’ projections. Its shares were down more than two per cent or $1.79 at US$78.07.Gorman said Wal-Mart’s dismal earnings may be the effects of increased Social Security taxes that kicked in earlier this year that resulted in consumers with less money for discretionary spending.In Toronto, the stock market turned positive at mid-day, after all sectors were down at the close on Wednesday.The info tech sector was the leading advancer, up by 1.18 per cent, with shares in Open Text (TSX:OTC) higher by 2.83 per cent to $71.74 and Celestica Inc. (TSX:CLS) were up 2.86 per cent to $9.36. Meanwhile, BlackBerry shares (TSX:BB) were down 1.64 per cent, or 25 cents to $15.02.The telecom sector was also boosted after Telus (TSX:T) said it was prepared to pay off Mobilicity debtholders, hire its employees and provide service to the small wireless carrier’s 250,000 customers as part of a $380-million deal.The deal, which is subject to conditions including approval by the Competition Bureau, Industry Canada, and Mobilicity’s debtholders, resulted in its shares climbing more than one per cent, or 41 cents to $37.36.The gold, materials and metals and mining sectors saw minimal upticks after being down for most of the morning.CAE Inc. (TSX:CAE) reported its net income was $43.6 million or 17 cents per share in its fiscal fourth quarter, a decline from a year earlier due to restructuring, integration and acquisition costs during the January to March period. The Montreal-based company, which provides training equipment and services for the civil aviation and defence markets, says its fourth-quarter revenue was 16 per cent higher — rising to $587.9 million from $506.7 million last year.Commodity prices are showing some small gains. The June crude contract jumped $1.03 to US$95.33 a barrel, while July copper was up three cents US$3.30 a pound.. June gold bullion dropped $9.10 to US$1,387.10 an ounce.