U.S. stocks were flat in midday trading on Wednesday after surrendering earlier gains.
At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 2 points, to 11,404 – down 125 points from its earlier high point. The broader S&P 500 was unchanged, at 1,193.
The gains at the start of the day were due largely to strong earnings from key retailers Target Corp. and Staples Inc. . Yet, defensive stocks were the biggest winners at midday, suggesting some concern about the global economic backdrop. Telecom services and utilities rose 1.2 per cent each, and consumer staples rose 0.6 per cent.
Economically sensitive stocks were the main laggards. Information technology stocks fell 1 per cent, consumer discretionary stocks fell 0.7 per cent and industrials fell 0.3 per cent.
In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 72 points or 0.6 per cent, to 12,602 – but down more than 100 points from its earlier high.
Defensive stocks also led the way, with utilities up 1.3 per cent and telecom services up 1.2 per cent.
However, the gains were broad, with financials up 1 per cent and commodity producers also showing gains: Energy stocks rose 0.7 per cent and materials rose 0.6 per cent.