North American stocks struggled in midday trading on Friday, following disappointing economic reports from China and Europe, declining commodity prices and the start of federal spending cuts in the United States.
The S&P 500 was down 3 points or 0.2 per cent, to 1512. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 22 points or 0.2 per cent, to 14,077. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index was down 68 points or 0.5 per cent, to 12,754.
Stocks had been down considerably more at the start of trading, but recovered after the U.S. ISM factory index rose to 54.2 in February, up from 53.1 in January and ahead of expectations. As well, the final reading for the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index rose to 77.6 in February, up from an earlier reading of 76.3.