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At midday: Dow steps back from record high Add to ...

U.S. stocks retreated on Friday, threatening the Dow Jones industrial average’s 10-day winning streak and pushing the benchmark S&P 500 away from the edge of a record-high close.

The S&P 500 was down 2 points or 0.1 per cent, to 1561 – after coming within 2 points on Thursday of hitting a record high. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was down 29 points or 0.2 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 61 points or 0.5 per cent, to 12,861.

The moves followed a disappointing reading on U.S. consumer confidence. The preliminary reading of the University of Michigan’s confidence index fell to 71.8 in March, down from 77.6 in February. That’s below expectations and marks the lowest reading since December 2011.

However, U.S. industrial production was far more upbeat. In February, production rose 0.7 per cent, marking the biggest gain in three months and beating expectations.

Meanwhile, inflation readings were relatively benign, if up slightly. The U.S. consumer price index rose 2 per cent, year over year.

Within the S&P 500, telecom stocks fell 1 per cent, consumer staples fell 0.4 per cent and health-care stocks fell 0.3 per cent – suggesting some dissatisfaction with economically defensive sectors. Financials rose 0.3 per cent and materials rose 0.1 per cent.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell 1.8 per cent and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. rose 0.7 per cent after investors reacted to news that regulators are requiring the two financial firms to submit new capital plans following the results of recent stress tests. JPMorgan was also facing a U.S. Senate hearing on its “London Whale” trades.

Bank of America Corp. rose 3.7 per cent after it won approval to buy back shares.

In Canada’s benchmark index, energy stocks rose 0.9 per cent, consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.5 per cent, materials rose 0.3 per cent and financials rose 0.1 per cent.

Among key commodities, crude oil rose to $93.43 (U.S.) a barrel, up 40 cents. Gold rose to $1,593 an ounce, up $2.

In Europe, stocks also took a step back after major indexes hit multiyear highs on Thursday. In afternoon trading, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 0.6 per cent and Germany’s DAX index fell 0.3 per cent.


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