North American stocks remained well underwater in midday trading on Thursday amid more signs of slowing global economic growth.
At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 103 points or 0.8 per cent, to 13,004. The broader S&P 500 was down 11 points or 0.8 per cent, to 1400. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 104 points or 0.9 per cent, to 11,906.
The declines followed moves overseas, where the U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 0.4 per cent and Germany’s DAX index fell 1.6 per cent.
The U.S. Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for the period ended last week were unchanged, at 374,000, providing little evidence of any meaningful improvement in the employment landscape ahead of next week’s much-anticipated report on monthly payrolls for August.
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, will deliver a speech on Friday at Jackson Hole, with many observers hoping he will reveal plans about providing economic stimulus.
For sure, there were more signs that the global economy might need a jolt from central bankers. Japanese retail sales disappointed and Germany unemployment rose for a fifth straight month – suggesting that the euro zone’s woes are affecting core members.
Within the S&P 500, all 10 subindexes were down. Technology stocks and energy stocks fell 1 per cent each. Financials fell 0.7 per cent and materials fell 0.9 per cent.
Wtihin Canada’s benchmark index, financials fell 0.9 per cent amid strong quarterly earnings from banks this week, but also news that Bank of Nova Scotia will buy ING Bank of Canada from its Dutch parent ING Groep NV for about $3.1-billion. Scotiabank shares fell 2.7 per cent.
Commodity producers were also down. Energy stocks fell 0.8 per cent, moving with the price of crude oil. In New York, oil fell to $94.32 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.17. Materials fell 0.9 per cent.