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A currency trader reacts at the foreign exchange dealing room of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 23, 2012. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)
A currency trader reacts at the foreign exchange dealing room of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 23, 2012. (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

At midday: Dow, TSX slump despite rising confidence Add to ...

North American stocks were down slightly in midday trading on Tuesday, as investors looked beyond an upbeat report on U.S. consumer confidence and rising home prices.

At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 29 points or 0.2 per cent, to 13,044. The broader S&P 500 was down 4 points or 0.3 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 64 points or 0.5 per cent, to 11,694.

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The moves come ahead of a busy week for central banks, with both the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank releasing monetary policy statements beginning on Wednesday. Many investors are hoping that policy makers recognize recent disappointing economic reports and add to stimulus efforts.

On Tuesday, though, U.S. economic news was largely upbeat. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose for the first time in five months to a reading of 65.9 in July from 62.7 in June.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for 20 U.S. cities rose 0.9 per cent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping expectations and adding to speculation that the housing market is turning around.

However, the news wasn’t so upbeat in Canada, where economic growth slowed to just 0.1 per cent in May after 0.3 per cent growth in April.

In Europe, stocks were weak. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 1 per cent and Germany’s DAX index was relatively flat. Meanwhile, the yield on Spain’s 10-year government bond rose nearly 14 basis points, to about 6.7 per cent, adding to pressure that the country’s borrowing costs might be unsustainable.

Within the S&P 500, consumer discretionary stocks were the biggest laggards, falling 0.9 per cent. Energy stocks and materials fell 0.5 per cent each and financials fell 0.4 per cent.

Within Canada’s benchmark index, energy stocks fell 1 per cent and materials fell 0.2 per cent, following commodity prices lower. Crude oil fell to $88.66 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.12. Gold fell to $1,614 an ounce, down $8.

Banking giant UBS AG fell 5.3 per cent in New York after it reported a 58 per cent slide in its second quarter earnings, missing expectations.

Facebook Inc. fell 5.9 per cent, touching a new low not long after reporting its quarterly results.

However, U.S. Steel rose 9 per cent after reporting better than expected earnings.

And Canada’s Rona Inc. surged 20.2 per cent after rejecting an unsolicited takeover offer of $14.50 (Canadian) a share from Lowe’s Cos.

Follow on Twitter: @dberman_ROB

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