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