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At midday: S&P 500, TSX show slight gains

North American stocks recovered from earlier losses on Thursday and showed modest gains in midday trading.

Shortly after noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 9 points or less than 0.1 per cent, to 13,566. The broader S&P 500 was up 1 per cent or 0.1 per cent, to 1462. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 15 points or 0.1 per cent, to 12,476.

The moves higher follow a rough start to the day when investors and economists were taken aback by a lurch in U.S. jobless claims. For the period ended last week, claims rose by 46,000, to 388,000. That was well above an expectation of 365,000 claims – and it raises concerns about the U.S. employment situation, which has shown signs of improvement recently.

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Reactions to corporate earnings was mixed. Morgan Stanley fell 1.2 per cent after it reported a loss of $1-billion (U.S.), even though its results after one-time adjustments topped expectations among analysts.

Verizon Communications Inc. rose 3.4 per cent after it reported earnings of $1.6-billion or 56 cents a share, up from 49 cents a share last year.

Within the S&P 500, telecom stocks showed the biggest gains, rising 2.1 per cent. Consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.4 per cent and financials rose 0.3 per cent. Consumer staples fell 0.5 per cent and tech stocks fell 0.4 per cent.

Within Canada's benchmark index, telecom stocks rose 0.5 per cent, financials rose 0.3 per cent and energy stocks rose 0.2 per cent. Materials fell 0.7 per cent.

Key commodities were generally weak. Gold fell to $1,743 an ounce, down $11. Crude oil fell to $90.99 a barrel, down $1.13.

In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 per cent and Germany's DAX index rose 0.6 per cent.

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