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Mixed Performance On Wall Street Amid GDP Data, Earnings - U.S. Commentary


Stocks put in a mixed performance on Friday. Disappointing data on first-quarter economic growth and a mixed response to the latest batch of earnings numbers weighed on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. This included a sharp decline in shares of online retailer Amazon (AMZN), which revealed a decline in its quarterly profit.

Meanwhile, the blue chips managed to eke out a slim gain, boosted by strength in Chevron (CVX) and Boeing (BA).

The S&P 500 slipped 2.92 points, or 0.2 percent, to end at 1,582.24. The Nasdaq dropped 10.73 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,279.26. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 14.75 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 14,712.55.

The mixed performance closed out a week that generally saw gains, as Wall Street bounced back following a decline from recent highs last week.

Economic news was among the drivers on the session.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter, according to new government statistics. This was up from the 0.4 percent pace of growth seen in the fourth quarter of 2012.

However, the rebound in the January-to-March period was not as robust as experts were expecting. Economists were calling for GDP to grow 3.1 percent.

Chevron helped the Dow finish above the unchanged mark. Shares of the oil giant rose 1.6 percent following the release of the company's quarterly report.

Chevron reported a 4 percent decline in profit for the first quarter. Revenues suffered from lower crude oil prices and flat production. Still, the company's profit was able to top the average estimate of Wall Street analysts.

Investors also reacted to quarterly results from Amazon. The company revealed a profit for its latest quarter that fell from last year. Costs related to the firm's expansion plans cut into the bottom line. Net sales rose 22 percent to $16.1 billion.

Amazon's shares posted a decline of $19.89, or 7.2 percent, to end the day at $254.81.

While earnings news was the main source of corporate headlines, J.C. Penney (JCP) received some attention as well. This followed news that the firm has received a vote of confidence from a big-name investor.

George Soros has purchased a 7.9 percent stake in the struggling retailer, according to a filing. J.C. Penney posted a loss of nearly $1 billion last year and has recently brought back former CEO Myron Ullman to help right the company.

Shares of J.C. Penney gained $1.74 on the session, or 11.4 percent, to close at $16.98.

Looking overseas, Asian stocks turned in a mixed performance, as investors weighed earnings reports and waited for the GDP report from the U.S.

Japanese shares lost ground as the yen's mild strength hurt exporters and earnings from companies such as Advantest and Ibiden disappointed investors. The Nikkei average slipped 0.3 percent from a five-year high, while the broader Topix index lost a percent.

China's Shanghai Composite index lost a percent ahead of the upcoming Labor Day holidays. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed 0.7 percent higher, led by financial and telecom shares.

European stocks posted modest losses on the session. The U.K. dropped 0.3 percent. Germany slipped 0.2 percent. France posted a decline of 0.8 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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