With traders digesting a report showing somewhat weaker than expected U.S. economic growth, stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open for the markets.
After pointing to a higher open earlier in the morning, the futures gave back some ground following the release of the Commerce Department's report on first quarter GDP.
The Commerce Department said that GDP increased by 2.2 percent in the first quarter compared to the 3.0 percent growth seen in the fourth quarter. Economists had been expecting first quarter GDP to increase by about 2.5 percent.
The slowdown compared to the previous quarter reflected a deceleration in private inventory investment and a downturn in non-residential fixed investment, which were partly offset by faster consumer spending and export growth.
While GDP rose by less than expected in the first quarter, it still marked the eleventh consecutive quarter of economic growth. Additionally, the data is often viewed as old news.
Not long after the open, Reuters and the University of Michigan are scheduled to release their revised report on consumer sentiment in the month of April. The consumer sentiment index is expected to be upwardly revised to 75.8 from the mid-month reading of 75.7.
Meanwhile, traders have largely shrugged off news that S&P lowered Spain's long-term sovereign credit rating to "BBB+" from "A," as the announcement did not come as much of a surprise.
Among individual stocks, shares of Amazon.com (AMZN) are moving sharply higher in pre-market trading after the online retailer reported first quarter earnings that fell year-over-year but still came in substantially higher than analysts had expected.
Drug giant Merck (MRK) and auto giant Ford (F) are also likely to be in focus after reporting better than expected first quarter earnings. However, Merck reported weaker than expected revenues.
On the other hand, Procter & Gamble (PG) may come under pressure in early trading after the consumer products giant reported third quarter earnings that fell year-over-year and cut its full year guidance.
Stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday, adding the gains posted in the previous session. The markets benefited from upbeat housing data, which helped to overshadow another disappointing jobs report.
The major averages pulled back off their best levels going into the close but still ended the day firmly positive. The Dow rose 113.90 points or 0.9 percent to 13,204.62, the Nasdaq climbed 20.98 points or 0.7 percent to 3,050.61 and the S&P 500 advanced 9.29 points or 0.7 percent to 1,399.98.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 0.3 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the upside on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.5 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.8 percent.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are slipping $0.24 to $104.31 a barrel after climbing $0.43 to $104.55 a barrel on Thursday. Gold futures are moving down $1.80 to $1,658.70 an ounce. In the previous session, the precious metal rose $18.20 to $1,660.50 an ounce.
Among currencies, the U.S. dollar is trading at 80.55 yen compared to the 80.99 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.3249 compared to yesterday's $1.3218.
by RTT Staff Writer
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