's recession deepened late last year.
The Dow Jones industrial fell 16 points to 13,966.91 at midday.
The broader S&P 500 index fell less than a point to 1,519.70 The Nasdaq composite index slipped just over a point to 3,195.56.
Germany's economy shrank in the final three months of last year. The slowdown in Europe's largest economy deepened the recession across the region, pulling down European stock markets Thursday. Sales to Europe have been a boon to U.S. companies: Exports to Europe have averaged $2.7 billion a day.
In a handful of deals announced Thursday, American Airlines and U.S. Airways agreed to merge in an $11 billion deal. Warren Buffet and an investment group plan to buy H.J. Heinz for $23 billion.