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At midday: German, U.S. data lift Dow, TSX

Traders work at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange Aug. 7, 2012.

TOBIAS SCHWARZ/REUTERS

North American stocks were higher in midday trading on Tuesday, driven partly by better-than-expected German economic growth and an upbeat reading on U.S. retail sales in July.

At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 44 points or 0.3 per cent, to 13,213. The broader S&P 500 was up 5 points or 0.3 per cent, to 1409. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 51 points or 0.4 per cent, to 11,889.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that July retail sales rose 0.8 per cent over the previous month, well ahead of expectations and marking the first gain in four months.

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Overseas, the euro zone economy contracted by 0.2 per cent in the second quarter, over the first quarter. But the good news was that Germany's economy continued to expand, growing by 0.3 per cent which was slightly better than expectations. As well, France's quarterly economic growth was flat, versus expectations for a slight contraction.

European stocks closed higher. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 per cent and Germany's DAX index rose 0.9 per cent.

Within the S&P 500, financials were among the big winners, rising 0.6 per cent. Consumer stocks were also strong, with discretionary stocks up 0.6 per cent and staples up 0.4 per cent. Telecom stocks and materials fell by 0.3 per cent each.

Within Canada's benchmark index, financials rose 0.8 per cent and energy stocks rose 0.7 per cent. Materials slipped 0.2 per cent.

Agrium Inc. got off to a strong start in early trading after it was reported that hedge fund Jana Partners had taken a 5 per cent stake in the Canadian company in the hope of splitting its retail and wholesale fertilizer businesses. In midday trading, the shares had settled back, up just 0.5 per cent, on concerns that the businesses don't need splitting.

Estee Lauder Cos. Inc. surged 10.2 per cent after the cosmetics company reported that its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings beat expectations and sales rose 10 per cent over last year.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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