Wall Street dips after GDP but finishes week higher

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - United States (US) stocks dipped in thin volume on Friday, though the market had a strong week overall despite a mixed bag of earnings and weak economic figures.

Shares of online retailer Amazon.com Inc posted the largest daily drop in 15 months after the company reported results late on Thursday. It was Friday's biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes.

Gains in shares of Chevron Corp buoyed the blue-chip Dow industrials.

The market fell early after a negative surprise from the gross domestic product report, but the decline attracted bargain-hunting investors late in the session. Major indexes posted solid gains for the week.

JC Penney Co was the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer, up 11.5 per cent to $17 after CNBC reported Goldman Sachs lined up a US$1.75 billion (S$2.2 billion) loan for the retailer. The news added to previous gains a day after investor George Soros reported a 7.9 per cent passive stake in the company.

"We traded off a decent amount after the gross domestic product (GDP) number but we didn't break any technical levels or really didn't get much momentum in the selloff past late morning," said Mr Paul Zemsky, head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management in New York.

"I guess there was some bottom fishing. There was so much fear of poor earnings going into earnings season that this is still somewhat of a positive surprise."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.75 points or 0.08 per cent, to 14,712.55, the S&P 500 lost 2.92 points or 0.18 per cent, to 1,582.24 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 10.72 points or 0.33 per cent, to 3,279.26.

For the week, the Dow gained 1.1 percent, the S&P added 1.7 per cent and the Nasdaq rose 2.3 per cent.

Of the 271 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings to date for the first quarter, 69 per cent have beaten analyst expectations - above the 63 per cent average since 1994 and slightly over the 67 per cent beat rate over the past four quarters.

Eastman Chemical dropped 5.1 per cent to $68.97 a day after posting results, to lead percentage declines among S&P materials, which was the worst performing sector of the index with a 1.4 per cent drop.

The S&P traded on Thursday within a point of its historic closing high set earlier this month and the 1,593 level is expected to be technical resistance in the near future.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5 per cent rate in the first quarter, below estimates of 3 per cent, heightening fears the US economy could struggle to cope with deep government spending cuts and higher taxes that kicked in earlier this year.

Amazon.com shed 7.2 per cent to $254.81 after it said revenue growth slowed in the first quarter as the company struggled overseas, but margins jumped on lower shipping expenses.

Chevron rose 1.3 per cent to $120.04 after it posted earnings that beat expectations, even as lower oil prices bit into the profits of the second largest US oil company.

The PHLX housing sector index gained 1 percent, getting a lift from D.R. Horton Inc after the No 1 US homebuilder reported earnings. D.R. Horton shares closed at their highest in six years after an 8.7 per cent jump to $26.60.

About 5.7 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average so far this year of about 6.4 billion shares.

On the NYSE, roughly seven issues fell for every five that rose and on Nasdaq about three fell for every two advancing issues.

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