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A Moody's sign on the 7 World Trade Center tower is photographed in New York August 2, 2011 (Mike Segar / Reuters/REUTERS)
A Moody's sign on the 7 World Trade Center tower is photographed in New York August 2, 2011 (Mike Segar / Reuters/REUTERS)

At noon: Dow up, TSX flat as financial rise Add to ...

North America remained relatively stable in midday trading on Friday, a day after major indexes suffered some of their worst declines this year.

At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 60 points or 0.5 per cent, to 12,634. The broader S&P 500 was up 5 points or 0.4 per cent, to 1331. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 2 points, to 11,406 -- after stumbling more than 3 per cent on Thursday.

The moves follow a downgrade of 15 global banks by Moody's Investors Services, but they were largely expected and in at least one case the downgrade was less severe than the market had been anticipating. The market had expected Morgan Stanley's credit rating would be reduced three levels, when in fact it was reduced just two levels. The shares were up 1.1 per cent in midday action.

Indeed, U.S. financials were the top performers within the S&P 500, rising 0.8 per cent as a group. Among other leading areas, health care stocks rose 0.7 per cent and technology stocks rose 0.6 per cent.

Canada's benchmark index was again held back by commodities, which have stood out as serious laggards this year and led Thursday's declines. Materials fell 1.6 per cent in midday trading, while energy stocks rebounded a lacklustre 0.2 per cent. However, financials rose 0.4 per cent and telecom services rose 0.5 per cent.

Overseas, stocks were down as major markets reacted to Thursday's retreat in North America. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 1 per cent and Germany's DAX index fell 1.3 per cent.

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