US stocks fall on poor first quarter growth

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished lower Wednesday on news the US economy grew just 0.2 per cent in the first quarter.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 18,034.40, down 75.74 points (0.42 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 7.99 (0.38 per cent) to 2,106.77, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 31.78 (0.63 per cent) to 5,023.64.

Stocks were in the red all day after first quarter growth came in well below the 1 per cent projected by analysts due in part to extremely harsh winter weather in some regions and the West Coast port strike.

Later Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve said the slower growth was due "in part" to transitory factors and that the economy should resume expanding at a "moderate pace."

That suggested the Fed still expects to begin a slow series of rate rises in the coming months, though not likely in June as many analysts had been expecting until recently.