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* Gold hits six-week bottom on worry over U.S. rate hike
* New Zealand dollar rises to 2-1/2-year high
* Citigroup shares post biggest daily drop since Nov. 2012
* Euro at three-week low on fear of ECB easing
By Barani Krishnan
NEW YORK, March 27 U.S. stocks fell on Thursday
after upwardly revised fourth-quarter growth data failed to
impress investors and worries over Ukraine lingered, and gold
tumbled to a six-week low as the improved U.S. growth increased
expectations that U.S. interest rates might rise sooner than
investors have thought.
The euro hit a three-week bottom against the dollar, as
speculation rose that the European Central Bank might ease
monetary policy further. Peripheral European government bond
yields hit a multi-year trough.
In global equities, the MSCI world equity index
edged up 0.08 percent while the pan-European
FTSEurofirst 200 index was up 0.16 percent.
Wall Street derived little comfort from the final revision
to fourth-quarter growth and a decline in weekly jobless claims
to a four-month low. The U.S. Commerce Department said gross
domestic product expanded at a 2.6 percent annual pace in the
fourth quarter, below the 2.7 percent pace expected by analysts.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 6.77
points, or 0.04 percent, at 16,262.22. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 4.71 points, or 0.25 percent, at 1,847.85.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 23.32 points, or
0.56 percent, at 4,150.26.
"Data has largely been in line. It's been incredibly uneven,
and that is another reason why there is some hesitancy," said
Peter Kenny, chief executive officer of Clearpool Group in New
"The market has been given plenty of reasons to sharply sell
off and it does not seem as though there is that spirit to do
it," Kenny added. "Clearly we are coming to the end of the
quarter and no one is particularly interested in marking the
Technology shares continued to weaken, extending a trend of
investors' moving away from more speculative investments in the
stock market. The S&P technology index was down 0.5
A steep decline in shares of Citigroup Inc pressured
the market. Citi was down 6 percent at $47.32, after falling as
low as $47.12 earlier in its biggest daily drop since November
2012 after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday rejected the bank's
plan to return capital to shareholders.
The benchmark S&P index managed to hold above the 1,840
support level, allowing money managers to "window dress," or
adjust positions to improve the look of their portfolios, as the
end of the first quarter approached.
Investors also remained concerned over the prolonged
conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. The United
States and the European Union on Wednesday agreed to prepare
possibly tougher economic sanctions in response to Russia's
annexation of Ukraine's Crimea territory.
Gold's spot price broke below the $1,300 an ounce
psychological support on price charts as traders watched for
clues on U.S. rate hikes. The improved U.S. growth figures
diminishes metal's appeal as a hedge. While Federal Reserve
Chair Janet Yellen said last week that rates could start rising
by early next year, the gold market is reacting to the
opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion.
In U.S. Treasuries, yields on 30-year U.S. bonds
fell to 3.51 percent to hit their lowest level since July. The
benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 8/32 in
price, its yield at 2.672 percent.
The dollar edged higher against the euro and the yen
after the U.S. economic data.
The New Zealand dollar rose to a 2-1/2 year
against the U.S. dollar after economic data and hints that the
country's central bank could raise interest rates. The New
Zealand current hit a high of $0.8672, up 0.9 percent
on the day.
Investors had bought the dollar last week after Yellen
suggested the possibility of raising interest rates early next
year, or about six months after its current bond-buying program
In Europe, the focus was on whether the euro zone's central
bank might act to bolster a slow economic recovery.
Emerging market stocks were steady while Ukraine's sovereign
government bonds rose after the International Monetary Fund said
it had agreed a $14-18 billion bailout for the country.
Spanish 10-year yields hit an eight-year low of
3.271 percent and Italian yields an 8-1/2-year low
of 3.327 percent, while Portuguese yields shrank
fell to a four-year low of 4.091 percent.
(Additional reporting by Natsuko Waki and Marius Zaharia;
Editing by Leslie Adler)