North American stock markets were lower Friday as big disappointments from jobs statistics in both Canada and the United States raised fresh worries about the pace of the economic recovery.The S&P/TSX composite index was off the worst levels of the session but still down 66.26 points at 12,296.79 after Statistics Canada reported the economy shed 54,500 jobs — all full time — in March. The unemployment rate rose by 0.2 per cent to 7.2 per cent.Generally speaking, economists had expected about 6,500 jobs to have been created last month, although BMO Capital Markets had suggested it might be as high as 18,000.The Canadian dollar tumbled 0.92 cents to 97.86 cents US in the wake of the weak data. The dollar was also punished by other data that showed a big increase in Canada’s merchandise trade deficit.U.S. markets also fell after the Labour Department reported that the economy only managed to crank out 88,000 jobs last month even as the jobless rate declined 0.1 per cent to 7.6 per cent.The Dow Jones industrials lost 98.88 points to 14,507.23, the Nasdaq composite index lost 32.97 points to 3,192.01 and the S&P 500 index shed 12.33 points to 1,547.65.“There’s not a lot to get joyful about in this mess,” said Fred Ketchen, manager of equity trading at Scotia Capital. “You have to say, it’s nice to be optimistic. But you have to get back to the land of reality and at the present time there’s more negative news than positive news.”Traders had started the week off expecting that the U.S. non-farm payrolls report would show that about 190,000 jobs were produced in March following a reading of 220,000 in February. But that was before the release of data over the past few days showing slower than expected expansion in both the manufacturing and service sectors, capped off with a report from payroll firm ADP that the economy created fewer than expected jobs in the private sector.Meanwhile, Statistics Canada also reported that the trade deficit widened from $746 million in January to $1 billion in February. Exports decreased 0.6 per cent to $38.5 billion, with shipments of metal and non-metallic mineral products contributing the most to the decline. The agency said that this was partially offset by an increase in motor vehicles and parts. Imports edged up 0.1 per cent to $39.5 billion.It has been a tough week on markets, with the TSX moving into the negative column for the year to date on worries about the pace of the U.S. economy and purchasing managers indexes from China that, while showing expansion, missed expectations.The resource-based TSX has been particularly pressured by mining stocks. Base metals are down 17.5 per cent so far this year, reflecting weak commodity prices amid a slow global economic recovery. And the gold sector has fallen 22.2 per cent as gold companies have suffered from bullion costs that haven’t kept pace with growing costs of getting the precious metal out of the ground.The more broadly-based Dow industrials is still up around 10 per cent for the year.Financials led the declines, down 1.6 per cent amid signs of further weakness in the Canadian economy and concerns that interest rates will stay ultra-low for even longer than expected.“Those people who have been saying interest rates will stay low until year end, I think they’re probably getting reinforcement of their opinion because I don’t see any reason why anybody would even think about raising rates in this environment,” added Ketchen.TD Bank fell $1.02 to $80.98 while Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) gave back 64 cents to $57.10. Industrials were down 0.68 per cent and Canadian National Railways (TSX:CNR) dropped 67 cents to $97.31.Prices for oil and metals were lower as May copper on the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped a penny to US$3.34 a pound. The metals sector lost 0.86 per cent as First Quantum Minerals (TSX:FM) declined 25 cents to C$18.36.TSX losses would have been even steeper if not for a one per cent gain in the gold sector as the weak jobs data pushed bullion prices higher after a string of declines this week, rising $13.50 to US$1,565.90 an ounce. Goldcorp Inc. (TSX:G) gained 57 cents to C$32.52.The energy sector turned positive, up 0.16 per cent while the June crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange lost 90 cents to US$92.36 a barrel. Canadian Natural Resources (TSX:CNQ) was 18 cents higher at C$31.10.Losses on European markets picked up after the jobs report as London’s FTSE 100 index, Frankfurt’s DAX and the Paris CAC 40 all fell about 2.2 per cent.On the corporate front, clothing retailer Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. (TSX:RET.A) reported a net loss of $1.1 million or a penny per diluted share in its fiscal 2013 fourth quarter, reversing year-earlier profits of $4.7 million or seven cents per share. Revenue for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2 totalled $267.7 million, up three per cent from just under $260 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2012 and its shares dropped 33 cents to $9.41.

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