North American stocks were almost unchanged in midday trading on Monday, ahead of a much-anticipated monetary policy statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve later in the week.
Shortly after noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 5 points or zero per cent, to 13,311. The broader S&P 500 was down 1 point or 0.1 per cent, to 1436. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 1 point, to 12,269.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX index fell only slightly.
The sideways moves follow last week's strong rally that came after the European Central Bank announced a plan to buy unlimited quantities of government bonds from financially distressed European countries in an effort to blunt the impact of the ongoing sovereign-debt crisis.
On Thursday, the Federal Reserve will deliver its own plan to deal with the sluggish U.S. economy. Many observers are expecting the central bank to provide some form of stimulus, either by extending the date in which it is promising to keep its keep interest rate at an exceptionally low level, or through outright bond-buying using using a strategy known as quantitative easing.
Within the S&P 500, telecom stocks rose 0.9 per cent, while materials and consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.3 per cent each. Technology stocks fell 0.6 per cent and financials fell 0.3 per cent.
American International Group Inc. fell 1.4 per cent after the U.S. government said it would sell $18-billion (U.S.) worth of shares to institutional investors, reducing the government's stake in the insurer after rescuing it in a 2008 bailout.
Within Canada's benchmark index, telecom stocks rose 0.5 per cent and financials rose 0.3 per cent. Materials fell 0.3 per cent after the price of gold retreated to $1,734 an ounce, down $7.
Talisman Energy Inc. rose 3 per cent after John Manzoni agreed to step down as chief executive in favour of Hal Kvisle.
BCE Inc. rose 0.5 per cent after it said it would launch an online streaming service to compete against Netflix Inc.