North American stocks were down slightly in midday trading on Thursday, following a disappointing reading on European economic growth in the fourth quarter.
Shortly after noon, the S&P 500 was down less than 1 point, to 1,520. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was down 11 points or less than 0.1 per cent, to 13,972. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 55 points or 0.4 per cent, to 12,720.
The moves follow news that the euro zone economy contracted for the third straight quarter at the end of 2012. In the fourth quarter, gross domestic product fell 0.6 per cent, worse than the 0.4 per cent contraction expected by economists.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 fell 0.5 per cent and Germany’s DAX index fell 1.1 per cent.
Heinz surged 19.9 per cent after it agreed to be acquired by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital for $23-billion or $72.50 (U.S.) a share.
Whole Foods Market fell 9.4 per cent after it reported profit growth of 24 per cent in its fiscal first quarter, but forecast weaker-than-expected sales and margins for the rest of 2013.
Barrick Gold Corp. rose 4.7 per cent after it announced spending cutbacks. The move followed a $4.2-billion writedown in the company’s copper business and a $3.1-billion net loss in the fourth quarter.
Research In Motion Ltd. recovered from an early selloff that followed news that founder Jim Balsillie now has no stake in the BlackBerry maker. The shares were last seen up 5.4 per cent.