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Trader Michael Zicchinolfi works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 24, 2012. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Trader Michael Zicchinolfi works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 24, 2012. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

At midday: S&P 500 holds modest gains Add to ...

North American stocks were up slightly in midday trading on Wednesday, promising to end a two-day losing streak that began after the U.S. benchmark index hit a five-year high.

The S&P 500 was up 4 points or 0.3 per cent, to 1461. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was up 61 points or 0.5 per cent, to 13,390. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 4 points or almost zero per cent, to 12,508.

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The gains follow the start of the fourth-quarter reporting season, when Alcoa Inc. kicked things off on Tuesday evening after markets closed. Its share price rose 0.1 per cent after reporting operating earnings that were in line with analyst expectations.

Within the S&P 500, health-care stocks saw the biggest gains, rising 0.9 per cent. Industrials rose 0.8 per cent, consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.3 per cent and financials retreated 0.1 per cent.

Boeing Co. rose 3.2 per cent after Asian customers stood by the aerospace company, despite a three mishaps affecting its new 787 Dreamliner.

Morgan Stanley fell 0.7 per cent after it said it would slash 1,600 investment banking jobs.

In Canada, industrials rose 1 per cent and financials rose less than 0.1 per cent. Commodity producers lagged, with energy stocks almost flat and materials falling 0.4 per cent.

Among commodities, crude oil fell to $93.05 (U.S.) a barrel, down 10 cents. Gold fell to $1,656 an ounce, down $6.

In Europe, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.7 per cent and Germany’s DAX index rose 0.3 per cent.

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