U.S. stocks were modestly higher in midday trading on Friday after rough start to the day, though Canada's benchmark index continued to be weighed down by weak energy stocks.
At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 9 points or less than 0.1 per cent, to 12,469. The broader S&P 500 was up less than 1 point or zero per cent, to 1315. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 51 points or 0.4 per cent.
The moves follow comments from U.S. President Barack Obama, who said that Europe's debt crisis was exerting a drag on the U.S. economy. At the same time, investors are awaiting news from Europe, where Spain is expected to seek financial help from the euro zone in dealing with its ailing banking sector.
Within the S&P 500, commodity producers were the biggest laggards. Energy stocks fell 1 per cent and materials fell 0.3 per cent. However, economically defensive areas were generally performing well: Telecom services rose 1.1 per cent, consumer staples rose 0.5 per cent and health care stocks rose 0.4 per cent.
In Canada, energy stocks fell 1.1 per cent after the price of crude oil fell sharply. Oil was recently spotted at $82.45 (U.S.) a barrel, down $2.37. Consumer stocks were also weak, with discretionary stocks down 0.5 per cent.
In Europe, major indexes closed the week with slight declines. Germany's DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.2 per cent each.