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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 26, 2014. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 26, 2014. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

At midday: Stocks decline; BlackBerry down sharply Add to ...

The Toronto stock market racked up more losses Thursday despite better-than-expected figures on GDP and jobless claims from the U.S.

The S&P/TSX composite index took back 19.35 points to 14,164.75 after sustaining a three-digit loss at the close Wednesday.

The Canadian dollar was ahead by 0.28 of a cent to 90.50 cents US.

The Commerce Department says the U.S. economy grew at a 2.6 per cent annual rate from October to December, slightly more than previously estimated, as consumer spending rose at the fastest pace in three years. Analysts had been expecting a growth rate of 2.4 per cent.

The release coincided with figures from the U.S. Labor Department that found jobless claims fell 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 311,000, the lowest since late November and a hopeful sign that hiring could pick up.

But Wall Street was not lifted following the positive economic news, as the Dow Jones industrials declined 24.89 points to 16,244.10, the Nasdaq shed 29.64 points to 4,143.94 and the S&P 500 index dipped added 6.25 points to 1,846.31.

“It just seems like a weak market here,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at firm 3MACS.

“We came down a fair bit yesterday, so you would think that if people were enthusiastic towards the market they would come back quickly... buy the dip. But that doesn’t seem to be at work here.”

He noted that January and February were strong months for the North American markets and, perhaps, investors are now taking a break from making any big moves.

“It seems like we’re in a bit of a pause or a correction,” said Nakamoto.

Some of the losses in New York were due to news about Citigroup, which announced after markets on Wednesday that the Fed has turned down its capital plan, saying it had failed its post-economic crisis “stress test.”

The rejection means that the bank will not be able to pay out bigger dividends to shareholders, or go ahead with a planned buy back more of its own stock.

Meanwhile, there was a slew of corporate news for investors to digest in Canada.

Lululemon Athletica Inc. says its profits held steady in the fourth quarter, the busiest season for retailers. The Vancouver-based yoga-wear maker beat revised analyst expectations by four cents with earnings of 75 cents per share.

The U.S.-listed company has had to deal with a several setbacks last year including the way it handled a problem with its black Luon pants, which some customers reported were see-through when they wore them.

Smartphone maker BlackBerry saw its shares slide more than three per cent, or 34 cents, to $9.81 by mid-day as it prepared to report its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings Friday. The struggling Waterloo, Ont., tech company has been revising its business for the past year to stay competitive against the likes of Apple and Samsung.

In commodities, June gold bullion contract took back $5.20 to $1,298.20 an ounce and the May copper contract gained two cents to $2.98 a pound. Oil added $1.32 to $101.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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