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US: Wall St up as weak GDP spurs hope of slower rate hikes

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Wall Street was higher on Friday after weak GDP data raised expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would go slow on future interest rate hikes.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street was higher on Friday after weak GDP data raised expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would go slow on future interest rate hikes.

US gross domestic product rose 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, below the 0.8 per cent expected, as a strong dollar and tepid global demand hurt exports.

Intervention by central banks has become key to supporting turbulent markets, roiling under slowing global economic growth. The Bank of Japan cut a key interest rate below zero on Friday to spur its flagging economy.

While the Fed has not ruled out another rate hike in March, the current turmoil could force it to wait until June.

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Investors are still reeling from one of the worst starts to a year as oil prices remain under pressure and fears of a China-led global slowdown grow.

US stocks have failed to sustain several rallies in 2016 and are yet to post gains for three days in a row. The S&P 500 has shed 7.4 per cent this year to Thursday's close. "We're likely to settle in at these levels for a short time, at least until more news comes out probably in a month or so,"said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

"Near term, I think it's oil, earnings and technicals that are likely to drive the market." Crude prices held steady above $34 per barrel on Friday on hopes that top producers may agree to cut production.

At 9:36 am ET (1436 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 124.3 points, or 0.77 per cent, at 16,193.94, the S&P 500 was up 12.23 points, or 0.65 per cent, at 1,905.59 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 21.28 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 4,527.96.

Nine of the ten major S&P sectors were higher, led by the 1.27 per cent increase in tech stocks.

Microsoft was up 4.6 per cent at $54.46 on the software giant's better-than-expected results. The stock was the biggest influence on all three indexes.

Chevron's shares were down 2.2 per cent at $84.13, after the oil major reported its first quarterly loss in more than 13 years.

Amazon was down 9.4 per cent at $575.84, after the company's quarterly profit fell way below expectations.

Xerox was up 3 per cent to $9.51, after announcing a deal with Carl Icahn to split the company into two.

Abbvie was down 2.8 per cent at $54.35 after the drugmaker reported lower-than-expected revenue.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,375 to 336. On the Nasdaq, 1,731 issues rose and 451 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed four new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded eight new highs and 25 new lows.

REUTERS

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