Dollar gains on U.S. GDP, oil, stocks tumble

NEW YORK Thu Nov 7, 2013 4:22pm EST

1 of 7. A man walks through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange August 5, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stronger-than-expected U.S. economic growth and a surprise interest rate cut by the European Central Bank boosted the dollar on Thursday and helped push oil prices to a four-month low, but stocks on both sides of the Atlantic struggled.

The euro fell sharply against the dollar after the ECB cut rates to a record low and said it would keep providing cheap financing to banks to support the euro zone recovery.

Adding to the dollar's strength was data showing the American economy grew in the third quarter at the quickest pace in a year, suggesting the Federal Reserve may be able to cut back its stimulus spending later this year.

That suppressed Brent oil prices, which settled down $1.78 at $103.46 a barrel. U.S. crude settled down 60 cents at $94.20. Plentiful crude supplies and progress in talks over Iran's disputed nuclear program also weighed on oil.

Stocks tied to the energy sector fell .OSX .SPNY, and weak earnings from Whole Foods (WFM.O) and Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) weighed on the broader U.S. market.

"This morning's GDP report sent the dollar surging, and anything commodity-based that was dollar-related just turned and headed south," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont. "That just rolled over into the rest of the (stock) market."

Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) shares, however, soared 72.6 percent in their first day of trading. The shares opened at $45.10 after pricing at $26 a share Wednesday, and rose as high as $50.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended down 152.90 points, or 0.97 percent, at 15,593.98. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 23.34 points, or 1.32 percent, at 1,747.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 74.61 points, or 1.90 percent, at 3,857.33.

MSCI's all-country world stock index .MIWD00000PUS fell 0.8 percent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 of leading regional shares closed little changed at 1,296.95. It had hit a five-year high after the ECB cut rates but retreated on funding concerns for smaller banks.

Prices for U.S. Treasuries rose on the ECB's surprise rate cut. A slowdown in consumer and business spending gave investors pause after a report on U.S. third-quarter gross domestic product prompted an initial sell-off. U.S. jobless claims also fell in the latest week.

"The initial selling burst on the GDP headline couldn't be sustained because the underlying numbers had just enough weakness to make people wait for the payroll numbers tomorrow," said Jim Vogel, interest rates strategist with FTN Financial in Memphis.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 7/32 in price to yield 2.6128 percent.

Economists polled by Reuters expect Friday's nonfarm payrolls report to show employers added 125,000 jobs in October, below September's tally of 148,000.

The pace of gains in the job market will likely play a big role in determining when the Fed decides to begin reducing its monthly bond purchases.

The ECB's decision to cut rates to a record low of 0.25 percent followed months of grumbling by governments and bankers over the impact of a strong euro on the region's fragile recovery and weak inflation rate.

The bank's dovish policy bias should cap future euro gains, traders said.

"With the Fed's easy money days seen increasingly numbered, the ECB's more dovish and divergent outlook augurs meaningful euro depreciation over the coming weeks," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.

The euro last traded down 0.6 percent at $1.3434 after hitting a seven-week low of $1.3356 after the ECB announcement.. The dollar index, which values the greenback against six major currencies, was up 0.3 percent at 80.71 .DXY

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Central banks interest rates: link.reuters.com/jyv94s

ECB rates and inflation: link.reuters.com/juw29s

German factory output: link.reuters.com/zyx46s

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(Reporting by Herbert Lash in New York; Additional reporting by Richard Hubbard in London and Steven C. Johnson in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler, Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)