North American stocks were up modestly in midday trading on Thursday, putting the U.S. benchmark index on track for its third straight gain just days after touching a one-month low.
The S&P 500 was up 3 points or 0.2 per cent, to 1519. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was up 12 points or 0.1 per cent, to 14,088 – putting a new record high within sight. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 25 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,757.
U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter was revised up – ever-so-slightly – to 0.1 per cent. In the first estimate, the economy had contracted 0.1 per cent.
In a separate report, weekly initial jobless claims fell to 344,000, down 22,000 – a bigger drop than economists had been expecting.
Within the S&P 500, defensive areas showed the biggest gains: Telecom stocks rose 0.8 per cent, while utilities and health-care stocks rose 0.3 per cent each. Economically sensitive stocks, including financials, industrials and technology, rose less than 0.2 per cent each.
Within Canada's benchmark index, technology stocks rose 1.3 per cent, industrials rose 1.1 per cent, and consumer staples rose 0.4 per cent. Materials fell 0.8 per cent and financials were almost flat.
Royal Bank of Canada rose 0.9 per cent after reporting an 11 per cent gain in net earnings, to $1.36. On an adjusted basis, earnings beat analysts' expectations.
Toronto-Dominion Bank fell 0.1 per cent after reporting its quarterly results and raising its dividend. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce fell 1.1 per cent after it held its dividend unchanged.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 per cent and Germany's DAX index rose 0.9 per cent.