GLOBAL MARKETS-Disappointing U.S. data hits stocks
* U.S. GDP miss adds downward pressure on stocks * Fed's statement awaited for clues on asset-buying programme NEW YORK, Jan 30 (Reuters) - A surprise contraction in the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter hurt stocks on Wednesday but helped keep the euro close to a 14-month high on expectations the U.S. central bank will continue its easy monetary policy. The data showed the world's largest economy unexpectedly suffered its first decline in the fourth quarter since the 2007-09 recession, and this dampened the mood in financial markets ahead of a meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve. An announcement from the U.S. central bank is expected later in the day. "This is one chink in the armor of the recent better-than-expected economic indicators. This will make people start to get wary," said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York. "If it turns out Sandy and the fiscal cliff were the reasons for (the contraction), people will shrug it off." The Dow Jones industrial average was down 9.61 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,944.81. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 1.27 points, or 0.08 percent, at 1,506.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 1.69 points, or 0.05 percent, at 3,155.35. Prices for U.S. Treasuries traded near flat on Wednesday as data showed the U.S. economy unexpectedly shrank at the end of last year, with investors awaiting any hints about the Fed's asset-buying program as the central bank concludes a two-day meeting. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 4/32, with the yield at 2.0136 percent. There had been optimism earlier in the day after several encouraging reports on the European economy that saw the euro break above $1.35 for the first time since December 2011. The euro was last at $1.3552.
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