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Specialist Michael O'Mara, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Feb. 8, 2012.

Richard Drew/Richard Drew/AP

North American stocks dipped slightly at the start of trading on Monday, weighed down by concerns in Spain and a disappointing U.S. economic readings.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 14 points or 0.1 per cent, to 13,214. The broader S&P 500 fell 6 points or 0.4 per cent, to 1,398. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 54 points or 0.4 per cent, to 12,184.

Spain's economy contracted 0.3 per cent in the first quarter over the fourth quarter, slightly better than expected but nonetheless putting the country into recession even as the government struggles to cut its deficit through spending cuts.

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In the United States, personal spending rose just 0.3 per cent in March over April, marking the slowest gain since December. The Canadian news was even worse: Its gross domestic product in February fell 0.2 per cent, versus expectations for a 0.2 per cent gain.

Among Dow components, Merck & Co. Inc. rose 1.3 per cent and Johnson & Johnson rose 0.6 per cent. However, Boeing Co. fell 1.4 per cent, while Procter & Gamble , General Electric Co. and Bank of America Corp. fell 0.9 per cent each.

In other moves, Sunoco Inc. rose 20.3 per cent after Energy Transfer Partners LP said it would buy the company for $5.3-billion (U.S.). Barnes & Noble Inc. surged 64 per cent after Microsoft Corp. bought a $300-million stake in the company's Nook digital-books business. Microsoft shares were flat.

Among Canadian stocks, Suncor Energy Inc. rose 1.4 per cent ahead of the release of its quarterly financial results, expected on Monday evening. Research In Motion Ltd. rose 3 per cent but Royal Bank of Canada fell 0.5 per cent.

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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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