Global shares fall on U.S. GDP data, weak earnings; dollar slides

Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:48pm EDT
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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...

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange, Germany, April 28, 2015.     REUTERS/Remote/Staff