Canada Stocks Rise on Jobs Data as Technology Shares Advance

Canadian stocks rose, capping a fifth week of gains, on signs economic growth is strengthening after U.S. employers added more workers than forecast.

Constellation Software Inc. soared 12 percent after reporting fourth-quarter earnings that beat estimates. Secure Energy Services Inc. rallied 6.7 percent after the stock was recommended by RBC Capital Markets. Health care and technology stocks increased at least 1.4 percent for the biggest gains among 10 industries in the Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index.

The benchmark gauge added 27.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,299.08 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The index has gained 5 percent this year and trades near the highest level since June 2008.

The 175,000 gain in U.S. employment last month followed a revised 129,000 increase in January that was bigger than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey called for a 149,000 advance in February. The jobless rate unexpectedly climbed from a five-year low, rising to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent.

Canadian employment fell for the second time in three months in February, a surprise decline led by a drop in government workers. Employment fell by 7,000 and the jobless rate was unchanged at 7.0 percent, Statistics Canada said today in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a 15,000 job increase and an unchanged jobless rate, according to median forecasts.

Constellation Software

Nine of 10 sectors in the S&P/TSX advanced. Health-care companies surged 3 percent and technology stocks rose 1.4 percent. Consumer-discretionary shares added 0.7 percent.

Constellation Software jumped 12 percent to a record C$265.48. Earnings for the quarter were $3.26 per share, higher than the $2.50 profit per share analysts predicted.

Energy companies increased 0.7 percent. Penn West Petroleum Ltd. soared 8.2 percent to C$9.41, while Paramount Resources Ltd. surged 3.4 percent to C$45.84. Birchcliff Energy Ltd. rose 2.7 percent to C$10.24.

Secure Energy climbed 6.7 percent to a record C$18.70. RBC Capital Markets analyst Dan Macdonald raised the stock’s rating to outperform, the equivalent of buy, from sector perform, with a target price of C$21.00 a share.

Canexus Corp. plunged 13 percent to C$5.24, the lowest level since December 2009. National Bank of Canada Financial Inc. analyst Patrick Kenny cut the chemical manufacturer’s rating to underperform, similar to sell, from sector perform. Kenny’s 12-month target price for the shares is C$5.

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