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At midday: Dow, TSX slump as IMF outlines risks

Trader Gregory Rowe works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. Stocks are rising in early trading on Wall Street after the government reported that the U.S. unemployment rate fell below 8 per cent for the first time in almost four years.

Richard Drew/AP

North American stocks traded near session lows in midday trading on Tuesday, amid ongoing concerns about the health of the global economy.

Shortly after noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 85 points or 0.6 per cent, to 13,498. The broader S&P 500 was down 11 points or 0.8 per cent, to 1445. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 107 points or 0.9 per cent, to 12,312.

The moves come as a delayed reaction to a downgrade of global economic growth expectations from the International Monetary Fund, which left markets relatively flat near the start of trading. The IMF cut its forecast for 2013 to 3.6 per cent from a 3.9 per cent in July, but that assumes the United States can hold off its so-called fiscal cliff and the euro zone can integrate its economy.

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The declines also come ahead of the start of the third-quarter earnings season for U.S. companies. Alcoa Inc. kicks things off on Tuesday, after markets close. This marks the first earnings season since 2009 in which expectations see a year-over-year decline in earnings as a slowing global economy bite into corporate performance.

Within the S&P 500, technology stocks were the hardest hit, falling 1.2 per cent. Health care and consumer discretionary stocks fell 1.1 per cent each and industrials fell 0.9 per cent. Energy stocks showed the only gains, rising 0.4 per cent.

Within Canada's benchmark index, materials fell 1.8 per cent, energy stocks fell 0.8 per cent and financials fell 0.7 per cent.

While global economic concerns usually weigh on the price of crude oil, oil actually moved higher. In New York, it traded at $90.52 (U.S.) a barrel, up $1.19, likely on concerns about rising tensions in the Middle East, where Turkey and Syria are now in open conflict.

In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.5 per cent and Germany's DAX index fell 0.8 per cent.

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