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At midday: Dow, TSX crawl back on Fed hopes

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke prepares to testify before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 17, 2012.

YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS

North American stocks were relatively unchanged in midday trading on Tuesday after recovering from losses earlier in the day, with investors taking an upbeat view on Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony in Washington.

At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 7 points or less than 0.1 per cent, to 12,734, after being down more than 80 points.

The broader S&P 500 was up less than 1 point, to 1,354. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 8 points or less than 0.1 per cent, to 11,513.

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Although there was a flurry of economic reports for investors to digest – including a 0.4 per cent gain in U.S. industrial production in June, a rise in homebuilder confidence and a 2.2 per cent gain in U.S. "core" inflation over last year – the focus was largely on Mr. Bernanke's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.

Mr. Bernanke's remarks fed some concerns after he said that reducing unemployment would be "frustratingly slow" and offered no solutions in the form of additional stimulus.

Later, however, he added that stimulus would come if the labour market does not improve, putting major indexes on the mend.

Within the S&P 500, economically defensive areas of the market showed the biggest gains, with telecom stocks up 0.7 per cent and health care stocks up 0.5 per cent.

Cyclical stocks tended to lag. Financials fell 0.4 per cent after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. reported that its second quarter earnings fell 11 per cent from last year but topped analysts' expectations. Technology stocks and industrials fell 0.2 per cent each.

In Canada, materials fell 1.4 per cent after the price of gold fell to $1,576 (U.S.) an ounce, down $16. Financials were unchanged.

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

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Spanish and Italian bond yields were relatively steady, with Spain's 10-year government bond holding at 6.73 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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