US STOCKS-Wall Street dips after data; Amazon drags

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 26, 2013 14:40 hrs

* GDP shy of expectations, consumer confidence dips vs March

* Amazon drags S&P, Nasdaq after results

* Dow up 0.22 pct, S&P off 0.04 pct, Nasdaq down 0.25 pct

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, April 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks slipped on Friday after data showed the pace of economic growth fell short of expectations and a separate report on consumer sentiment showed a drop from the previous month.

The Commerce Department said gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5 percent rate, increasing from 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter but shy of estimates for growth of 3 percent.

The data could raise doubts about the ability of the economy to absorb government spending cuts and higher taxes, and may fuel speculation on the possibility of more Federal Reserve measures to boost growth, or at least keep its current stimulus plans in place.

"What we are going to do is just average the fourth quarter and the first quarter and take a look and see the economy is growing way underneath its potential growth rate which keeps the Fed in play to do more quantitative easing," said John Canally, investment strategist and economist for LPL Financial in Boston.

"The market has been rallying on the fact the ECB might actually start to do something; if the U.S. market reacts in the same way, that might get the market rallying. If not and they think the Fed's hands are tied, the market might sell off."

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment fell to 76.4 from 78.6 in March, although it topped economists' expectations for 73.2 and improved upon the preliminary April reading of 72.3.

Chevron Corp, up 1.1 percent to $119.78, helped lift the Dow and curbed declines on the S&P 500 index, after the second-largest U.S. oil company, posted its first-quarter earnings. Inc shed 5.6 percent to $259.20 as the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indexes after revenue growth slowed in the first quarter as the world's largest Internet retailer struggled overseas, even as margins jumped on lower shipping expenses.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 32.33 points, or 0.22 percent, to 14,733.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 0.66 points, or 0.04 percent, to 1,584.50. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 8.17 points, or 0.25 percent, to 3,281.81.

Starbucks Corp slipped 1.3 percent to $59.74 after the world's biggest coffee chain reported a quarterly profit that matched Wall Street estimates but its revenue was slightly below expectations.

The PHLX housing sector index gained 1.3 percent and was on track for its sixth consecutive advance, getting a lift from D.R. Horton Inc and Weyerhaeuser Co after the No. 1 U.S. homebuilder and forest products company reported earnings.

D.R. Horton shares jumped 7.3 percent to $26.31 while Weyerhaeuser gained 0.8 percent to $31.63.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning, of the 235 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings to date for Q1 2013, 67.7 percent have reported earnings above analysts' expectations, above the 63 percent average since 1994 and slightly above the 67 percent beat rate over the past four quarters.

However, revenue has been lackluster, with only 41.4 percent having topped analyst forecasts, well below the 62 percent average since 2002 and the 52 percent beat rate for the last four quarters.

Analysts now see earnings growth of 3.6 percent this quarter, up from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.

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