Stocks closed the week on a down note, following European stocks lower on Friday after a batch of disappointing economic news there.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 12,977.57, down 2.73 points -- after recovering about 50 points from its earlier low. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1,369.63, down 4.46 points or 0.3 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,643.82, down 79.64 points or 0.6 per cent.
It was a light day for North American economic news, limited largely to Canada’s economy expanding by 1.8 per cent at an annualized rate in the fourth quarter, in line with expectations but down sharply from the third quarter.
However, things looked bleak in Europe, even as leaders there signed a new fiscal pact that is designed to remove the threat of future sovereign-debt crises. Retail sales in Germany fell in January, dashing expectations for a gain. And in Spain, where some observers fear the next tremors of the debt crisis could be felt, unemployment rose as did concerns about a rising deficit target.
European stocks ended mostly lower: Germany’s DAX index fell 0.3 per cent and the Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.1 per cent. At the same time, the yield on Spanish 10-year government bonds crept slightly higher, to 4.87 per cent. (As yields rise, bond prices fall.)
Yelp Inc. surged nearly 64 per cent in its debut following an initial public offering, suggesting that investors' appetite for social media stocks remains ravenous.
Commodity producers were among the weakest performers after the price of crude oil retreated to $106.70 (U.S.) a barrel, down $2.14. Gold fell to $1,709.80 an ounce, down $12.40. Among Canadian stocks, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 1.1 per cent, Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. fell 2.1 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 0.9 per cent.
Among U.S. moves, International Business Machines Corp. rose 0.7 per cent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 0.6 per cent. American Express Co. fell 1.1 per cent, while Caterpillar Inc. and General Electric Co. fell 0.8 per cent each.