US STOCKS-Wall Street set for lower open after GDP data

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 26, 2013 13:30 hrs

* GDP shy of expectations, consumer confidence data due

* Starbucks slips in premarket after results

* Futures off: Dow 41 pts, S&P 4.3 pts, Nasdaq 7.5 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, April 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were poised for a lower open on Friday, indicating the S&P 500 may snap a five-day winning streak, after data on the pace of economic growth fell short of expectations.

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.

"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."

Later in the session at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT), investors will eye the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers final April consumer sentiment index. Economists expect a reading of 73.2, compared with 72.3 in the preliminary April report.

Starbucks Corp slipped 2.2 percent to $59.15 in premarket trading after the world's biggest coffee chain reported a quarterly profit that matched Wall Street estimates but its revenue was slightly below expectations. Inc shed 1.1 percent to $271.77 in premarket trading 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.

S&P 500 futures fell 4.3 points and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 41 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 7.5 points.

Dow component Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company, posted a 4.5 percent decline in quarterly profit on Friday, pinched by weaker oil prices.

But D.R. Horton Inc shares jumped 6.8 percent to $26.20 in premarket after the No.1 U.S. homebuilder reported a 173 percent jump in quarterly profit and said the spring selling season was off to a strong start.

Forest products company Weyerhaeuser Co reported a first-quarter net profit that more than tripled due to a recovery in the U.S. housing market, and said it expects higher sales volumes for all its wood products for the current quarter. Its shares gained 2.3 percent to $32.11 in trading before the opening bell.

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 analyst 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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