North American stocks essentially idled in midday trading on Wednesday, as investors digested a drop in U.S. jobless claims and uncertainty over whether European finance ministers can agree on the next round of financing for Greece.
Shortly after noon, the S&P 500 was down 0.38 of a point or about zero per cent, to 1387. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was up 25 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,813. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 25 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,072.
Major indexes haven’t moved much in the past two days, after a rally on Monday gave them their biggest one-day boost in about two months. The rally was likely due to investors becoming more optimistic that U.S. politicians will be able to agree on a budget and avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of rising taxes and declining government spending.
U.S. initial jobless claims fell to 410,000 last week, down 41,000 as the effects of Hurricane Sandy wear off. The decline was in line with economists’ expectations.
The University of Michigan’s consumer confidence index fell to 82.7 from 84.9, coming in below expectations.
Within the S&P 500, financials fell 0.5 per cent and utilities fell 0.2 per cent. However, technology stocks rose 0.3 per cent and consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.2 per cent.
Within Canada’s benchmark index, materials rose 0.6 per cent, financials rose 0.5 per cent and energy stocks rose 0.2 per cent.
Among key commodities, gold rose to $1,728 (U.S.) an ounce, up $5. Crude oil rose to $87.39 a barrel, up 64 cents.
In Europe, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose less than 0.1 per cent and Germany’s DAX index rose 0.2 per cent.