U.S. Stock Markets Lower On Mixed U.S. Economic Data

NEW YORK (AP) — Major U.S. stock indexes moved lower in afternoon trading Friday, on track for their third down day this week. New government data showing a slowdown in U.S. economic growth helped pull stocks mostly lower. Investors also were monitoring the latest crop of corporate earnings.


KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 106 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,310 as of 1:02 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 shed 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,009. The Nasdaq composite slid four points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,678.


GROWTH SLOWS: The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy grew 2.6 percent in the October-December quarter. That's down from a gain of 4.6 percent in the second quarter and 5 percent in the third quarter. Growth in consumer spending was offset by weaker business investment, trade and government spending.


THE QUOTE: "The GDP number is a little weaker, so it may give the Fed some pause as far as raising rates," said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment strategist at US Bank Wealth Management.

         When interest rates remain low, they tend to make stocks more attractive than bonds.


PAY PICKUP: The Labor Department reported that wages and benefits rose 2.2 percent last year, the fastest pace in six years. The increase is a sign strong job growth could be forcing companies to boost pay for workers. The Fed is watching wages as it considers whether to raise interest rates from near zero.


SECTOR WATCH: Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell, with industrial stocks declining the most.


HOMEBUILDERS: Most U.S. homebuilders were down sharply, led by Beazer Homes USA, which reported a wider quarterly loss and revenue that fell short of financial analysts' expectations. The stock slid $1.65, or 9.6 percent, to $15.60.


OIL FALLOUT: Chevron shed 2.4 percent after the oil company reported a 30 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit. The stock was the biggest decliner in the Dow. It fell $2.48 to $100.55.


UGH, UGG: Shares in Ugg footwear maker Deckers Outdoor slumped 19.1 percent after the company reported worse-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings and cut its outlook. The stock lost $15.72 to $66.55.


STEEP DIVE: The parent of Hawaiian Airlines reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, but also set a weak first-quarter outlook. That sent shares in Hawaiian Holdings down $7.36, or 27.6 percent, to $19.25.


AMAZON: Shares of Amazon.com jumped 13.7 percent a day after the e-commerce giant beat quarterly profit expectations by a mile. The stock gained $42.80 to $354.50.


CHARGE IT: MasterCard's fourth-quarter earnings surpassed Wall Street's expectations. The stock added 87 cents to $82.24. Shares in rival Visa, which reported higher earnings and announced a 4-for-1 stock split on Thursday, surged $11.63, or 4.7 percent, to $259.67.


EUROPEAN ACTION: Markets in Europe were lower following a report showing eurozone consumer prices fell 0.6 percent in the year to January. The report comes as the European Central Bank is about to launch an aggressive stimulus program to push inflation higher. In Europe, France's CAC 40 was down 0.6 percent and Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 percent.


ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.04, or 2.4 percent, to $45.58 a barrel in New York. The contract rose 8 cents to close at $44.53 on Thursday.


CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 117.41 yen from 118.20 the previous day. The euro fell to $1.1291 from $1.1327. The Russian ruble was down to 70.11 rubles per dollar from 68.76 after the country's central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates to 15 percent from 17 percent to help the weakening economy.


BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.66 percent from 1.75 percent late Thursday. That's the lowest since May 2013.

         – by AP Reporter Alex Veiga




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