North American stocks were flat in midday trading on Tuesday, recovering from an earlier dip.
The S&P 500 was down 1 point or less than 0.1 per cent, to 1470. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average was down less than one point, to 13,507. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was up 26 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,629.
The moves follow mixed economic news. A preliminary estimate on German economic growth in the fourth quarter showed a contraction of 0.5 per cent, threatening Europe's biggest economic power with a recession.
In the United States, the Empire State survey of manufacturing activity in January slumped 7.8 points, well below expectations for a flat reading.
However, U.S. retail sales were a bright spot: Sales rose 0.5 per cent in December over the previous month, beating economists' expectations for 0.2 per cent growth and suggesting that the debate in Washington over the so-called "fiscal cliff" did little to blunt consumption demands.
Within the S&P 500, consumer stocks showed gains, with staples up 0.2 per cent and discretionary stocks up 0.5 per cent.
Technology stocks were the biggest laggards, falling 0.6 per cent after Apple Inc. fell below the $500 (U.S.) threshold, down 2.4 per cent.
Within Canada's benchmark index, materials rose 0.9 per cent after gold rose to $1683 an ounce, up $13. Telecom stocks rose 0.6 per cent and financials fell 0.2 per cent.
Lululemon Athletica Inc. fell 6.1 per cent after its quarterly sales projections missed analysts' expectations.