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January 30, 2015 - US Stockmarket Update
Stocks End Lower After Disappointing GDP Data by Morningstar Investment Research
U.S. Market stocks slid in late trading today to end sharply lower after disappointing U.S. GDP data.
The U.S. economy grew at a 2.6% rate in the fourth-quarter according to an estimate from the Commerce Department. Economists had expected a 3.2% rate of growth in the quarter. The reading is a deceleration from the 5% growth reported in the third quarter. Full-year growth was 2.4%, above the 2.2% rate in 2013. Consumer spending looked strong in the period, but business investment was weak. The PCE Index, a key inflation measure watched by the Fed, fell at a 0.5% annual rate in the quarter thanks to lower energy prices.
Consumer sentiment rose in January according to the University of Michigan survey. The reading of 98.1 was above the December reading of 93.6, but slightly below the preliminary January ready of 98.2. The results were roughly in line with analyst estimates.
The Chicago PMI, which measures the strength of the Midwest manufacturing sector, rose to 59.4 in January from 58.8 in in December. The increase was driven by a boost in the employment component of the report.
Oil rose 8% today on signs that producers were responding to oversupply concerns. Oil prices were still down more than 9% for the month.
At market close the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down 1.5%, 1.3% and 1% respectively.
Stocks on the Move
Shares of Amazon (AMZN) rose over 13% after the firm reported better-than-expected fourth quarter results late Thursday. Prime memberships, Amazon Web Services, and third-party sales helped drive an impressive 300-basis-point improvement in gross margins Sales were up 15% to $29.3 billion in the quarter.
Google’s (GOOG) revenue grew 10.5% versus 2014 to $18.1 billion in the fourth quarter, although foreign currency had a negative impact of approximately 3.4%, excluding the contribution of the company's hedging program. Management called out particular strength in its mobile and programmatic advertising businesses, although it shared very little in the way of metrics for either segment. Operating margins showed slight improvement versus the prior year, rising 100 basis points to 24.3%. Shares rose nearly 5% on the news.
Chevron (CVX) said today that it earned $1.85 a share in the fourth-quarter, down from the $2.57 it earned in the year-ago quarter, but above the $1.63 expected by economists. The decline was driven by the sharp drop in oil prices partially offset by asset sales and profits from its refining business. The firm also said it is going to suspend its share buyback program. Chevron shares dropped 0.5% on the report.
Visa's (V) momentum slowed in the first quarter of its 2015 fiscal year, as weakness in global economies and pressure from clients had an impact on results. Strength in the U.S. dollar affected cross-border volumes, and we don't see any reason to believe this trend will reverse in 2015 given mounting economic and political tribulations around the world. Similarly, falling gas prices reduced spending particularly on Visa-branded debit cards--another factor that could provide a slight headwind. Shares were up 2.8% at market close.
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