Canadian stocks declined Thursday, hit by a selloff for most commodity futures and by a weak report for the services sector in the U.S., Canada's largest trading partner.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index tumbled 215.15 points, or 1.8%, to close at 12,014.97.
The Canadian dollar shed 0.24 cents to 101.13 cents U.S.
Among the day's top losers, Blackberry maker Research in Motion Ltd. was off 5.8% to $11.90. On Tuesday, RIM unveiled its Blackberry 10 new software, and prices have been falling since.
Barrick Gold Corp. shares declined 3.3% to $37.51. Barrick increased its quarterly dividend 33% as first-quarter earnings rose due to higher gold prices in recent months.
Manulife Financial Corp. had a $1.2-billion profit in the first quarter, a 22% jump from a year ago. It attributed the improvement to a number of special items as well as strong operational performance in Canada and Asia.
The profit amounted to 66 cents per share before dilution, up from 54 cents per share or $985 million in the first quarter of 2011 and much higher than the 36 cents a share that analysts expected. Its shares lost 2.7% to $12.98.
Shares in media giant BCE Inc. increased a penny to $40.31 as the company reported $574 million in profit in the first quarter before adjustments, a 14.1 per cent increase from the same time last year. Adjusted profit was $580 million, or 75 cents per common share, which was three cents a share ahead of analyst estimates.
Pharmacy chain Jean Coutu has reported improved results in its fiscal fourth quarter that beat analyst estimates on both profit and revenue. Net earnings were $62 million or 28 cents per share, compared with $46.5 million or 20 cents in the same 2011 period.
Revenue was $737.2 million, up from $659.8 million. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had been for earnings of 24 cents per share on $673 million of revenue and its shares climbed 48 cents, or 3.4%, to $14.68.
The TSX Venture Exchange retreated 12.73 points to 1,418.48, while the Nasdaq Canada fell 12.81 points to 396.21.
All 14 Toronto subgroups faded. Health-care stocks tumbled 4.3%, while gold lost 3.7% and materials faltered 2.9%.
U.S. stocks stumbled Thursday, as investors digested conflicting economic data ahead of Friday's all-important jobs report.
The Dow Jones Industrials lost 61.98 points to close at 13,206.60.
The S&P 500 tripped 10.99 points to 1,391.32
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 35.55 to 3,024.30.
The day started on an optimistic note, as a decline in weekly jobless claims lifted hopes ahead of the April jobs reading, due Friday morning.
But shortly after the opening bell, investors were hit with a weaker-than-expected reading on the U.S. service sector, which includes the retail, construction, financial services, health-care and hotel industries. The Institute of Supply Management's Service index showed that the service sector had the slowest expansion of the year in April.
Investors also continued to sort through a deluge of first-quarter corporate results.
Prudential Financial's 10% tumble made it the worst-performing stock on the S&P 500. Late Wednesday, the company posted a first-quarter loss of almost $1 billion U.S.
Shares of General Motors fell more than 2% after the automaker reported strong first-quarter earnings on good results in its domestic market, but took a hit on its bottom line from rising losses and special charges in Europe.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was the biggest loser on the Nasdaq, as shares plummeted more than 40%. The company reported quarterly revenue that missed estimates and lowered its guidance for 2012
Shares of online reviews site Yelp dropped after the company reported a net loss of $9.8 million U.S, or 31 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2012 -- its first as a publicly traded company. Yelp is in the process of investing in international expansion.
Coming after the bell on Thursday, AIG, Kraft and LinkedIn are due to report results.
Private equity firm The Carlyle Group priced its IPO Wednesday evening at $22 U.S. per unit, which was lower than its proposed $23 to $25 U.S. per unit range. Shares rose slightly when they began trading Thursday on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol CG.
Economically speaking, initial jobless claims for the week ended April 28 totaled 365,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department, which was less than expected.
Jobless claims were forecast to total 375,000, according to a survey of economists by Briefing.com -- an improvement from the revised figure of 392,000 in the week prior.
Economists are forecasting that Friday's report will show employers added 160,000 jobs to payrolls in April, but that the unemployment rate will remain unchanged at 8.2%.
A report on private-sector hiring from payroll processor ADP came in weaker than expected on Wednesday. And Thursday morning, the firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that job cuts rose to 40,559 in April -- an increase of 7% from March and of 11% from a year ago.
The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity dropped to 53.5 last month from 56 in March. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion but the reading was a disappointment to traders who had expected a reading of 55.4.
The ISM's survey covers all sectors outside of manufacturing. That includes retail, construction, financial services, health care, and hotels.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury edged higher, pushing the yield down to Wednesday's 1.92%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
The price of a barrel of oil fell $2.67 to $102.54 U.S.
Gold futures for June delivery dropped $19.20 to $1,634.80 U.S. an ounce.