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GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rise on US growth prospects; oil prices fall
April 30, 2014 / 4:35 PM / 4 years ago

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

* Wall St slightly higher; 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 close of European stock, bond markets))

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - Global equity markets edged higher 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 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 cited 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 0.11 percent to 413.50. In Europe, the pan-regional FTSEurofirst 300 rebounded to close flat, up 0.03 point at 1,352.45.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.93 points, or 0.09 percent, to 16,550.3. The S&P 500 gained 1.27 points, or 0.07 percent, to 1,879.6, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.217 points, or 0.18 percent, to 4,096.326.

Twitter shares fell 10.8 percent to $38.00, 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 at a record high on a steep increase in the Gulf Coast region and prospects for higher exports from Libya.

U.S. total commercial crude stocks rose 1.7 million barrels to just under 400 million barrels, the largest volume on records going back to August 1982.

Gulf coast oil stocks rose by 5.7 million barrels to just over 215 million, also their highest level on record.

Brent crude for June delivery was down $1.03 to $107.95 a barrel. June U.S. crude was down $1.73 at $99.55 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.

U.S. short-term interest rate futures rose as traders pared bets the Fed would raise the federal funds rate in the first half of next year in the wake of the weak GDP report.

The June 2015 federal funds contract implied traders now see a 47 percent chance of a Fed rate hike at the end of June 2015, down from 53 percent at Tuesday’s close.

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 0.42 percent to $1.3869.

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 9/32 in price to yield 2.6604 percent. (Reporting by Herbert Lash; Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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