Global shares fall on U.S. GDP data, weak earnings; dollar slides
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock markets worldwide slumped on Wednesday after a batch of weaker-than-expected corporate results and data showing U.S. economic growth braked more sharply than expected in the first quarter, while the dollar plunged to a nine-week low.
Commerce Department data showed U.S. gross domestic product expanded at an only 0.2 percent annual rate, marking the weakest reading in a year, leading to a lower open on Wall Street.
The data also hit European shares, which already suffered from weak corporate results from companies including Delhaize DELB.BR and Norsk Hydro (NHY.OL: Quote). The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top regional shares was on track to close well over 1 percent lower for a second straight day.
"The mixed economic data has been a concern. The low-rate environment is a bubble in itself and it's like riding a balloon until the pin pops," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
A stronger euro also weighed on the region's stock markets, with the currency hitting an eight-week high against the U.S. dollar at $1.10990. The dollar index .DXY, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, hit a roughly nine-week low of 94.872 after the GDP data.
Investors also awaited the statement from the Federal Reserve's latest two-day policy meeting, due at 2:00 p.m. EDT, for clues on when interest rates are likely to be increased.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was last down 49.78 points, or 0.27 percent, at 18,060.36. The S&P 500 .SPX was down 7.24 points, or 0.34 percent, at 2,107.52. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 19.71 points, or 0.39 percent, at 5,035.71.
MSCI's all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 45 nations, was last down 1.61 points or 0.36 percent, at 441.02. Continued...