* Exelon to buy Pepco Holdings, Pepco shares rally
* Twitter, EBay shares down a day after results
* FOMC statement due later in the day
* Indexes: Dow, S&P little changed, Nasdaq off 0.3 pct
(Updates to market open)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, April 30 U.S. stocks were little
changed on Wednesday after data showed the economy grew at a
sharply lower-than-expected pace in the first quarter, but gains
in private payrolls kept the market near break-even.
Gross domestic product expanded at a 0.1 percent annual
rate, the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2012, as exports
and inventories weighed, but activity already appears to be
bouncing back. It was a sharp pullback from the fourth quarter's
2.6 percent pace.
U.S. private employers, however, beat expectations by adding
220,000 workers in April, the highest amount since November, and
gains in the prior month were revised up. Chicago business
activity also rose more than expected in April, jumping to its
highest since October 2013.
Despite the large miss on GDP, the S&P 500 remained within 1
percent from its record closing high set early this month.
"There's no hiding the fact the GDP number is a
disappointment, but even though it came much lower than
expectations it's getting a hall pass because we are expecting
to have a better second quarter," 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," he said.
Hogan cited the Chicago PMI, internals of the GDP report,
and ADP as evidence the second quarter will be stronger.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 2.25 points or
0.01 percent, to 16,537.62, the S&P 500 lost 1.37 points
or 0.07 percent, to 1,876.96 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 11.172 points or 0.27 percent, to 4,092.371.
The S&P was struggling to stay in the black for the month,
with a 0.2 percent advance so far. It could be the third
consecutive month of gains for the S&P 500 and Dow, while the
Nasdaq was on track to post its second straight month of losses.
Twitter shares fell 10.1 percent to $38.30 and hit
a record low intraday level at $37.25, a day after it showed
lackluster user and usage growth for the second consecutive
EBay shares fell 6 percent to $51.29, weighing the
most on the Nasdaq 100, after it forecast
lower-than-expected earnings this quarter.
Nuclear power producer Exelon, which reported
earnings earlier on Wednesday, said it would buy Pepco Holdings
for $6.83 billion. Pepco shares jumped 17.5 percent to
$26.77 and Exelon fell 4.2 percent to $34.65.
French engineering group Alstom said it would
study a $16.9 billion offer from General Electric for its
energy arm but left the door open for a rival bid from Germany's
Siemens. GE shares were flat.
Markets will have their eyes on the Federal Reserve's
policy-setting meeting, as well, set to end later on Wednesday.
The Fed is expected to cut its bond-buying program by a further
$10 billion, confident the U.S. economy will pick up steam after
a winter slowdown.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Bernadette Baum and