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At midday: Stocks shed gains Add to ...

North American stocks were relatively unchanged on Monday after a disappointing reading on U.S. manufacturing activity weighed against an upbeat reading in China.

The S&P 500 was up less than 1 point, to 1417. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was down 12 points or 0.1 per cent, to 13,014. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 23 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,216.

Major indexes had seen modest gains in earlier trading after China reported that its manufacturing index rose to its highest level in seven months, providing evidence that the country’s economy is turning around after a sluggish period where economic growth has been declining.

However, the ISM manufacturing index in the United States fell to 49.5 in November from 51.7 in the previous month, putting activity into contraction territory. Some economists believe the dip was due to Hurricane Sandy, while others pointed to the effects of the fiscal cliff.

Within the S&P 500, telecom stocks, technology stocks and financials rose 0.4 per cent each. Materials fell 0.8 per cent and industrials fell 0.4 per cent.

Dell Inc. rose 5.7 per cent after an analyst at Goldman Sachs raised the recommendation on the stock to buy from sell, and hiked the price target to $13 (U.S.) from $9.

Within Canada’s benchmark index, industrials and materials fell 0.5 per cent, financials fell 0.3 per cent and energy stocks were unchanged.

Research In Motion Ltd. fell 1.3 per cent after Canaccord downgraded the stock to a “sell “ recommendation, arguing that the recent runup in the share price isn’t justified by fundamentals. RIM shares have risen 88 per cent over the past two months on optimism about the company’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform.

Saputo Inc. rose 2.9 per cent after it signed an agreement to buy dairy products maker Morningstar Foods LLC for nearly $1.5-billion.

Among commodities, crude oil rose to $89.17 a barrel, up 26 cents. Gold rose to $1,717 an ounce, up $4.30.

In Europe, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 per cent and Germany’s DAX index rose 0.4 per cent.

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