The Toronto stock market made gains early Friday on the back of impressive Canadian jobs figures, while a U.S. employment report appeared to quash a possibility the Federal Reserve could move on rates.The S&P/TSX composite index gained 24.88 points to 14,427.09, while the Canadian dollar traded ahead 0.49 of a cent at 91.08 cents US.Statistics Canada said 43,000 net new jobs were added in March, though most of them were part-time positions. The figure pushed the Canadian unemployment rate one tenth of a point lower to 6.9 per cent.“The strong bounce in March employment is encouraging though it follows a 7,000 drop in February and leaves the average increase over the previous four months at a still modest 5,000,” wrote RBC Economics assistant chief economist Paul Ferley in a note.“Thus today’s report does not alter our view that monetary policy is likely to remain highly accommodative to try and sustain more robust employment growth going forward.”On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrials gained 47.20 points to 16,619.75, the Nasdaq was up 12.51 points to 4,250.25 while the S&P 500 index moved up 6.68 of a point to 1,895.45.A separate U.S. jobs report showed that American employers added 192,000 jobs in March, but the U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 per cent.Because the figures matched predictions, they failed to change perceptions over the future policy path of the Federal Reserve. During the past few months, the Fed has been reducing its monetary stimulus amid mounting evidence of a sustainable economic recovery in the U.S.Prices for major commodities were up early Friday. Oil continued to rise after closing above US$100 a barrel on Thursday. May crude contracts advanced 99 cents to US$101.28 a barrel, May copper contracts gained 2.8 cents to US$3.05 a pound while June bullion gained US$12.70 to US$1,297.30 an ounce.European bourses were generally up Friday. London’s FTSE 100 index was ahead 0.5 per cent, Frankfurt’s DAX advanced 0.6 per cent and the Paris CAC 40 gained 0.6 per cent.In Asia, market indexes were mixed. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.5 per cent per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.24 per cent but China’s Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.75 per cent.
“It is now clear that the AIDS epidemic is still in its early stages,” Dr. Peter Piot, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme of HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), told the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona on Sunday. “And let us be equally clear: our fight back is at an even earlier stage.”Dr. Piot called for stepped up efforts to meet global anti-AIDS targets set at recent international conferences, including last year’s UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. “The promises have been made,” he said. “Now they must be kept.”The UNAIDS chief also warned that failing to act immediately would have catastrophic consequences. “We stood by while AIDS overwhelmed sub-Saharan Africa,” he said. “Never again. We cannot stand by as passive observers while other continents repeat history, and we must not fail Africa now, in her attempts to turn back the epidemic’s devastation.” Dr. Piot said the forces of global inequality underpinning the AIDS epidemic must also be addressed to make real progress against the epidemic. “International trade negotiations may have as great an impact on how many people get AIDS treatment as any number of national treatment access plans,” he said.A report recently released by UNAIDS shows that the AIDS epidemic is still in its early phase, with no sign of levelling off in the hardest hit countries. The Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic 2002 warns that AIDS is erasing decades of development and cutting life expectancy by nearly half in the most affected areas. Today, 40 million people live with HIV/AIDS in the world, according to the UN. Last year, 5 million people were newly infected with HIV, and 3 million died of AIDS.