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North American stocks were down slightly in midday trading on Thursday, interrupting what has been a strong week for major indexes.

At noon, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 29 points or 0.3 per cent, to 10,868. The broader S&P 500 was down 5 points or 0.4 per cent, to 1167.

Defensive sectors within the S&P 500 showed the only gains, suggesting that investors withdrew from some of the riskier areas of the market. Telecom services were up 0.5 per cent, utilities were up 0.1 per cent and consumer staples were flat.

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Among cyclical groups, consumer discretionary stocks were the hardest hit, falling 0.9 per cent, while financials fell 0.8 per cent following news that more Wall Street firms are being investigated by federal prosecutors. Industrials fell 0.6 per cent.

In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 74 points or 0.6 per cent, to 12,122.

The three biggest subindexes, based on their weightings within the benchmark index, were all down: Financials fell 0.7 per cent, and energy stocks and materials were down 0.6 per cent each.

This wasn't a broad-based sell-off though. Consumer discretionary stocks rose 0.6 per cent, while telecom services and utilities rose 0.5 per cent each.

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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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