NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 .MIWD00000PUS edged up 0.08 percent while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 200 index .FTEU3 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 .DJI was down 6.77 points, or 0.04 percent, at 16,262.22. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was down 4.71 points, or 0.25 percent, at 1,847.85. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC 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 York.
“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 book down.”
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 .SPLRCT was down 0.5 percent.
A steep decline in shares of Citigroup Inc (C.N) 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 ends.
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