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U.S. equities slide but oil and gold soar

U.S. stocks fell Friday on the last trading day of January, with investors focused on worse-than-expected fourth quarter GDP figures and another plethora of earnings results. Oil soared 8.3% and gold leapt 1.9%. The ASX SPI 200 is of 24 points to 5518.


US stocks fell Friday on the last trading day of January, with investors focused on worse-than-expected fourth quarter GDP figures and another plethora of earnings results.

Within one hour of the closing bell in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 125 points to 17,292, while the Nasdaq lost 18 points to 4,665 and the S&P 500 dropped 12 points to 2,009.

Today's most important US economic report was the government's first look at fourth quarter GDP, which expanded 2.6% in the fourth quarter, below expectations for a 3.2% gain. The US economy expanded 5% in the third quarter.

Later this morning, the Chicago Purchasing Manager's Index rose to 59.4 in January versus a revised 58.8 in December. Consensus expectations were for a drop to a 57.5 reading, from the previously estimated 58.3 in December.

The University of Michigan also released its final read on January consumer sentiment, with the index at 98.1 versus the mid-month reading of 98.2. This compares to 93.6 in December.


WTI crude for March delivery settled sharply higher Friday, settling up by $3.71, or 8.3%, at $48.24 a barrel, trimming losses for the month to 9.4% and posting a 5.8% gain for the week. Analysts said the gains were the result of a big drop in US rig counts as well as short coverings on the last day of the month.

Gold also rebounded Friday in response to weaker-than-expected US GDP data, rallying $23.90, or 1.9%, to settle at $1,278.50, on save haven demand. The contract closed out the month 8% higher, its biggest monthly percentage gain since January 2012.

Wall Street round-up

In corporate activity, Chevron (NYSE:CVX) led today's list of earnings reports, losing ground even after reporting quarterly earnings that topped estimates.

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) topped estimates on earnings, but revenue was short due to the impact of the stronger US dollar. The drugmaker also adjusted its outlook for the year, including reducing its revenue estimate to a range of $19.5 to $20 billion from its previous guidance of $20.3 to $20.8 billion.

Dow stock Visa (NYSE:V) beat estimates on both earnings and revenue, helped by cheaper gasoline prices. Shares rose almost 4% as the company also announced a 4-for-1 stock split.

Mastercard's (NYSE:MA) stock also edged up after profit and sales beat expectations, while Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) shares slid after announcing poor holiday sales.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) blew past Wall Street earnings expectations last night, pushing shares sharply higher, with gains of more than 14%. But revenue fell short of estimates and so did its outlook.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) reported earnings and revenue that missed expectations, weighed down by foreign exchange impacts and falling ad prices.

Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) shares rose over 3% after earnings and revenue came in above estimates, with the semiconductor maker increasing sales of its WiFi and broadband-related chips.

Shake Shack (NYSE:SHAK) shares more than doubled on the company's first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, more than doubling its market cap, after pricing its IPO last night at $21 per share, higher than the expected range of $17 to $19 per share.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:VRX) is buying the cancer vaccine Provenge from the bankrupt drug maker Dendreon for $296 million. The vaccine generated about $300 million in revenue last year.


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