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The close: Forget the day, celebrate the quarter Add to ...

North American stocks ended the second quarter on a down-note, closing on Tuesday with substantial losses for the day after a disappointing reading on U.S. consumer confidence - but at least the quarter looked good.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 8447.0, down 82.38 points, or 1 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 919.32, down 7.91 points, or 0.9 per cent. The index had been down as much as 1.6 per cent earlier in the day, but recovered some ground in late trading.

For the second quarter, the S&P 500 turned in a 15.2 per cent gain - astonishingly, its first positive quarter in two years, according to Reuters, and its best quarterly performance since 2003.

All 10 subindexes in the S&P 500 rose during the quarter. Financials led the way, rising 35.1 per cent as investors bet that the worst of the financial crisis was over. Information technology stocks, considered a good bet if there is an economic recovery, surged 19.4 per cent. Reflecting similar views on an economic recovery, industrials rose 18 per cent and consumer discretionary stocks rose 17.7 per cent.

Telecom services stocks were the worst performers, rising a mere 1.9 per cent. Defensive stocks also tended to lag the broader market, with health care stocks rising just 8.3 per cent, utilities rising 8.8 per cent and consumer staples rising 8.9 per cent.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed on Tuesday at 10,374.91, down 101.86 points, or 1 per cent. For the second quarter, though, it rose 19 per cent.

Despite the impressive gains, there was a wide gap between the leading subindexes and the laggards. Information technology stocks - a group dominated by Research In Motion Ltd. - were the clear favourites, rising 43.3 per cent. Financials rose 32.7 per cent and energy stocks rose 20.6 per cent.

Among the laggards, telecom services fell 2.2 per cent and materials rose just 4 per cent - reflecting a bumpy road for gold producers and fertilizer companies.

The Toronto Stock Exchange is closed on Wednesday, but U.S. markets are open until Thursday.

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