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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, July 23, 2012 in New York. (Henny Ray Abrams/Associated Press)
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, July 23, 2012 in New York. (Henny Ray Abrams/Associated Press)

The close: Dow slips but TSX gains Add to ...

North American stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, following a round of mixed U.S. economic reports that shed little insight into whether the Federal Reserve will be pushed into providing economic stimulus.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,164.78, down 7.36 points or less than 0.1 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1405.53, up 1.60 points or 0.1 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 11,905.44, up 51.83 points or 0.4 per cent.

The U.S. housing industry took another step in the right direction. The latest sentiment survey from the National Association of Homebuilders showed a reading of 37, up two points from the previous month and the highest reading since February 2007.

Industrial production rose 0.6 per cent in July, ahead of the 0.5 per cent expectation from economists. However, June’s reading was revised downward.

Meanwhile, there appears to be little threat of rising inflation. The U.S. consumer price index rose just 1.4 per cent in July over last year, down from 1.7 per cent in June. The so-called core rate, which strips out volatile food and energy items, rose 2.1 per cent, down from 2.2 per cent in June.

However, the Empire State manufacturing index slumped into negative territory, touching a new low for 2012.

Staples Inc. slumped 14.6 per cent after reporting that its second-quarter earnings fell 32 per cent, missing expectations.

Abercrombie & Fitch rose 9 per cent after its quarterly earnings topped expectations.

Within Canada’s benchmark index, financials and materials showed the biggest gains. Royal Bank of Canada rose 1.4 per cent, Barrick Gold Corp. rose 1.1 per cent and Agrium Inc. rose 1.9 per cent after Barclays published an upbeat research on the fertilizer sector.

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