North American stocks struggled in midday trading on Friday, despite a better-than-expected reading on U.S. economic growth in the third quarter.
Shortly after noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 26 points or 0.2 per cent, to 13,078. The broader S&P 500 was down 5 points or 0.4 per cent, to 1408. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 23 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,323.
The Commerce Department reported that growth in U.S. domestic product for the third quarter grew at an annual pace of 2 per cent. That is a little above the 1.8 per cent growth expected by economists and a signficant improvement over the 1.3 per cent growth in the second quarter.
However, it is not seen as sufficiently strong to make any dent in U.S. unemployment. As well, a big part of the gain was due to government spending – defense spending in particular.
Meanwhile, the University of Michigan consumer confidence index retreated to 82.6 from 83 in the last reading. Economists had been expecting a slight uptick in the index, to 83.1.
Within the S&P 500, financials took the biggest hit, falling 0.8 per cent. Consumer staples fell 0.4 per cent and health care stocks fell 0.3 per cent. Telecom stocks rose 0.3 per cent and materials rose 0.1 per cent.
Apple Inc. fell 2 per cent, bringing its decline since September to nearly 15 per cent. The company reported disappointing earnings on Thursday after markets closed.
Amazon.com Inc., which reported a loss on Thursday but a 27 per cent jump in sales, rose 3.4 per cent.
Within Canada’s benchmark index, consumer staples rose 0.6 per cent, telecom stocks rose 0.5 per cent and financials rose 0.3 per cent. Commodity producers were also strong, with both materials and energy stocks rising 0.4 per cent each.
In Europe, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended the day essentially flat, while Germany’s DAX index rose 0.4 per cent.