GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks flat on US growth prospects; oil prices fall

Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:40am EDT

* Wall St little changed; weak GDP offsets strong jobs data

* Oil falls below $108 on supply build, Libya prospects

* Dollar falls after GDP data bolsters case for low rates

* Debt yields slide as U.S. GDP growth weighs (Adds opening of U.S. markets, byline; dateline previously LONDON)

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - Global equity markets traded flat on Wednesday as investors looked beyond weak U.S. economic growth data for the first quarter to focus on brighter prospects for the economy, while oil prices fell on expectations for record-high U.S. inventories.

Wall Street initially slid after the U.S. Commerce Department said gross domestic product expanded at a 0.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the slowest pace since the fourth quarter of 2012.

But stocks rebounded, as negative views were softened by the impact on the economy of an unusually cold and disruptive winter and as other data pointed to an upturn in the second quarter.

"There's no hiding the fact the GDP number is a disappointment," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York. "The market is focusing on what economic data is telling us about Q2, and there's a reason to believe the demand loss was more weather related than anything."

Hogan noted other data released on Wednesday as evidence the second quarter will be stronger, including parts of the GDP report itself, a better-than-expected reading on business activity in the U.S. Midwest in April, and strong numbers on private-sector hiring in April.

The ADP National Employment Report showed private employers added 220,000 jobs payrolls in April, after increasing headcount by 209,000 in March.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer, which measures business activity in the Midwest, was 63.0. That was up from 55.9 in March, which was the lowest level since August, and topped the forecast of economists for a reading of 56.7.

MSCI's all-country world index rose 0.09 percent to 413.50. In Europe, the pan-regional FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.1 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.79 points, or 0.14 percent, to 16,559.16. The S&P 500 gained 1.8 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,880.13, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.151 point to 4,103.694.

Twitter shares fell 9.7 percent to $38.45, after hitting a record low at $37.25, a day after the company's quarterly results showed lackluster user and usage growth.

Oil fell below $108 a barrel with stocks in the United States expected to be at a record high and prospects for higher exports from Libya.

U.S. crude stocks are forecast to have risen by 2.4 million barrels to 400 million last week, the highest level since the U.S. Energy Information Administration started collecting data in 1982, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

Weekly EIA inventory data is due out in the afternoon.

Brent crude for June delivery was down $1.12 to $107.86 a barrel. June U.S. crude was down $1.44 at $99.84 a barrel.

The weak first-quarter read on the U.S. economy sent the dollar careening lower against the euro and the yen, bolstering the case for the Federal Reserve to maintain its zero-interest-rate policy.

Inflation increased in the euro zone, albeit at a lower-than-expected pace, according to data on Wednesday. While the door is open for the European Central Bank to print money in a bid to boost economic activity, given that inflation is running below target, the data dampened slightly the expectation of any imminent action.

The euro was off an earlier three-week low to trade up 0.44 percent to $1.3872, near the session high $1.3870.

U.S. Treasury yields fell in choppy trading on the GDP data.

Yields on benchmark 10-year notes and 30-year bonds dropped to session lows.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 8/32 in price to yield 2.6640 percent. (Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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