US stocks fluctuate after upbeat GDP report

New York, Feb 27 (IANS) US stocks traded narrowly mixed as the country’s economic growth was revised up to one percent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

By Friday noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 0.89 point, or 0.01 percent, to 16,696.40, Xinhua news agency reported.

The S&P 500 rose 3.19 points, or 0.16 percent, to 1,954.89. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 13.37 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,595.57.

According to the second estimate released on Friday by the Commerce Department, the US real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, beating market consensus of 0.4 percent.

In the previous estimate, the increase in real GDP for the fourth quarter of 2015 was 0.7 percent.

On Thursday, US stocks kept rising as Wall Street digested a batch of generally positive economic reports amid oil recovery.

Spanish stock market rises

 The Spanish stock market index Ibex-35 rose 1.63 percent to close at 8,349.20 points, up from the 8,125.60 points of the previous session.

Share values were up 1.9 percent in the week as a whole with the risk premium falling from the 148.60 points of Monday to the 140.90 points of Friday and Spain’s 10-year bond interest rate closed at 1.61 percent, Xinhua news agency reported.

On Friday’s session, Repsol shares led rises climbing 7.50 percent, followed by ACS and Gamesa that rose 6.50 percent and 5.82 percent respectively, while Ferrovial shares led falls losing 4.02 percent, followed by IAG and Telefonica that lost 3.24 percent and 3.17 percent respectively.

Oil prices decline

Oil prices closed lower as investors took profits from earlier gains.

Oil prices grew broadly in the early session on Friday, with both US oil and Brent crude jumping about 3 percent around mid-day, as strong US gasoline demand and up-revised economic growth data boosted market sentiment, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to US Energy Information Agency’s weekly report released on Wednesday, US gasoline demand rose 5.2 percent over the past four weeks compared with a year ago.

Moreover, the US Commerce Department said on Friday in its second estimate that the country’s real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, beating market consensus of 0.4 percent.

In the previous estimate, the increase in real GDP for the fourth quarter of 2015 was 0.7 percent.

The West Texas Intermediate for April delivery moved down $0.29 to settle at $32.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for April delivery dropped $0.19 to close at $35.10 a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

US dollar rises on upbeat GDP report

 The US dollar increased against most major currencies as the economic growth data from the country came out positive.

In the late New York trading on Friday, the euro fell to $1.0928 from $1.1024 of the previous session, and the British pound dropped to $1.3861 from $1.3965, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Australian dollar went down to $0.7123 from $0.7231.

The US dollar bought 113.91 Japanese yen, higher than 112.96 yen of the previous session.

The dollar increased to 0.9974 Swiss franc from 0.9903 Swiss franc but dropped to 1.3522 Canadian dollars from 1.3540 Canadian dollars.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six other currencies, was up 0.88 percent at 98.139 in late trading.

Gold down on stronger US dollar

Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell as a stronger US dollar put pressure on the precious metal.

The most active gold contract for April delivery lost $18.4, or 1.49 percent, to settle at $1,220.40 per ounce on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

A stronger US dollar drove traders away from gold’s safe haven properties, as the US Dollar Index rose on Friday.

The index is a measure of the dollar against a basket of major currencies.

Gold and the dollar typically move in opposite directions, which means if the dollar goes up, gold futures will fall as gold, measured by the dollar, becomes more expensive for investors.

Gold was put under further pressure as the US Department of Commerce on Friday released the gross domestic product report for the fourth quarter last year, which showed the headline GDP measure increasing by the better than expected 1 percent.

Canadian stocks tick up on US growth data

 Canada’s main stock market in Toronto edged higher as data showed the US economy slowed in the last quarter of 2015 but not as sharply as early estimates had suggested.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s benchmark Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index gained 44.19 points, or 0.35 percent, to close at 12,797.79 points on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Five of the TSX index’s eight main sub-sectors were higher.

Revised gross domestic product (GDP) figures from the US Commerce Department on Friday showed an annualized growth rate of 1.0 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

That’s an improvement from the initial estimate of 0.7 percent growth. The higher revision surprised analysts who’d expected the latest GDP report would show the economy slowing even more, to 0.4 percent. Still, one percent growth is just half the annual growth rate posted in the third quarter.

“The weaker drag from inventories in the fourth quarter means that any rebound in the first quarter could be slightly more modest than we previously expected,” said Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.

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