U.S. stocks were down slightly in midday trading on Tuesday amid little news, putting them on track for their first declines in eight trading sessions. Canadian stocks moved modestly higher.
The S&P 500 was down 4 points or 0.3 per cent, to 1552. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was down 5 points or almost zero per cent, to 14,442. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 18 points or 0.1 per cent, to 12,877.
Within the S&P 500, defensive stocks showed some strength: telecom stocks rose 0.5 per cent and health-care stocks rose 0.4 per cent. However, cyclical stocks declined: Technology stocks fell 0.7 per cent, industrials fell 0.6 per cent and financials fell 0.5 per cent.
Apple Inc. fell 1.3 per cent. IDC reported that Apple is losing market share to tablets running Google Inc.'s Android software. The firm believes that iPads will control 46 per cent of the market in 2013, versus 49 per cent for Android tablets – marking the first year since the iPad's debut in 2010 that Apple didn't control a majority of the market.
Meanwhile, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek trimmed his 12-month price target on Apple, to $420 (U.S.) a share from $500.
Yum Brands Inc. rose 2 per cent after it reported that same-store sales in China fell 20 per cent in the first quarter, a less severe decline than analysts had been estimating. The sales decline followed news that one its Chinese chicken suppliers had used too many antibiotics in the meat used by KFC outlets.
In Canada, the TSX was supported by a rally among gold producers, which lifted the materials sector by 1.5 per cent. The gains were fed by rising gold prices. Gold moved to $1,595 (U.S.) an ounce, up nearly $17. However, technology stocks fell 1.2 per cent, financials fell 0.4 per cent and energy stocks fell 0.1 per cent.
Research In Motion Ltd. fell 4.8 per cent, ending Monday's rally that followed speculation that Lenovo is considering making a potential bid for the BlackBerry maker.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was up 0.3 per cent and Germany's DAX index was down 0.1 per cent.