North American stocks were relatively flat on Wednesday morning soon after the start of trading, despite futures activity suggesting that major indexes were poised to score big gains.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 29 points or 0.2 per cent, to 12,849. The broader S&P 500 rose 2 points or 0.1 per cent, to 1,352. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index rose 16 points or 0.1 per cent, to 12,370.
The promise of early gains followed reports that China's central bank was making the right noises about the European debt crisis, saying that China would support the region's bailout fund. However, that was followed by more squabbling within Europe, with reports that some leaders are reluctant to forward Greece the next round of bailout money.
Chevron Corp. fell 1 per cent and Caterpillar Inc. fell 0.8 per cent. U.S. banks were relatively strong, though, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. up 0.9 per cent and Bank of America Corp. up 0.7 per cent.
In Canada, Talisman Energy Inc. rose 1.1 per cent after reporting a narrower loss in the fourth quarter. Cenovus Energy Inc., which more than tripled its quarterly earnings and boosted its dividend, fell 0.1 per cent.