Stocks were down slightly in midday trading on Monday, after Friday's activity left the U.S. benchmark index at its highest level in four months.
Shortly after noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 9 points or 0.1 per cent, to 13,266. The broader S&P 500 was down 1 point or 0.1 per cent, to 1417. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 10 points or 0.1 per cent, to 12,080.
The retreat comes just one trading day after the S&P 500 rose to its highest level since April and came within 1 point of turning in its best close since 2008.
Stocks were weighed down by yet more confusion from Europe, where one report suggested that the European Central Bank was close to a plan to target bond yields – essentially driving down the borrowing costs of countries whose bond yields had surged to unsustainable levels.
However, the ECB denied the report and Germany said that it does not support such a plan anyway, providing more evidence that German and the ECB remain in different camps when it comes to proposing solutions to the ongoing soveriegn debt crisis.
In Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.5 per cent and Germany's DAX index fell 0.1 per cent.
Earnings were also weighing on stocks. Lowes Companies sank 6.1 per cent after the home renovation retailer reported that its quarterly earnings missed expectations. It also cut its earnings forecast.
Within the S&P 500, telecom stocks fell 0.7 per cent, consumer discretionary stocks fell 0.6 per cent and materials fell 0.3 per cent. However, technology rose rose 0.4 per cent and financials rose 0.1 per cent.
Within Canada's benchmark index, financials fell 0.3 per cent while energy stocks and materials fell 0.2 per cent each.
Among commodities, crude oil fell to $95.90 (U.S.) a barrel, down 11 cents. Gold fell to $1,621 an ounce, down $5.