By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – World stock markets dipped on Friday, as U.S. equities retreated after a soft reading on first-quarter economic growth, while the euro strengthened as euro zone inflation rose to hit the European Central Bank’s target.
The U.S. economy grew at a 0.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter, its weakest pace in three years, amid tepid consumer spending and as businesses invested less on inventories, in a potential setback to President Donald Trump’s promise to boost growth.
The lackluster number sent equity indexes on Wall Street slightly lower, although strong earnings from Google parent Alphabet <GOOGL.O>, which closed up 3.7 percent, and Amazon <AMZN.O>, which rose 0.7 percent, curbed losses on the benchmark S&P index and briefly pushed the Nasdaq to a record.
“We know from history now that first-quarter (GDP) is usually a little fuzzy, it’s usually off and it usually gets upside revised,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
“But you’ve also got great earnings. I can’t get over how strong earnings reports have been – there is enough of a cushion there that even if it comes down a little we are going to be in good shape.
First-quarter earnings are currently expected to grow 13.6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data, the best performance since 2011.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 40.82 points, or 0.19 percent, to 20,940.51, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 4.57 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,384.2 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dipped 1.33 points, or 0.02 percent, to 6,047.61.
The Dow had its best week since early December while the Nasdaq saw a sixth-month winning streak, its longest since 2013.
European shares eased as investors took profits, but closed out their strongest week since December as political worries ebbed and brokers forecast strong earnings growth would underpin valuations.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> lost 0.23 percent, up 2.4 percent for the week, and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> shed 0.13 percent.
At six straight months of gains, MSCI’s index notched its longest monthly winning streak since 2007.
Inflation blew past expectations in Europe to hit a three-year high, keeping pressure on the European Central Bank to start dialing back its stimulus.
The euro <EUR=> strengthened against the dollar, up 0.17 percent to $1.089.
U.S. Treasury debt yields rose after the GDP data. Benchmark 10-year notes <US10YT=RR> last rose 4/32 in price to yield 2.282 percent, from 2.296 percent late on Thursday.
In commodities, oil prices advanced after a slide to a one-month low the previous day spurred buying ahead of an OPEC meeting next month at which producers could prolong output curbs. Both Brent and U.S. crude saw their second straight weekly declines.
U.S. crude <CLcv1> rose 0.41 percent to $49.17 per barrel and Brent <LCOcv1> was last at $51.87, up 0.1 percent on the day.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)