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US: Stocks little changed on mixed earnings

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished a volatile session little changed Friday following mixed corporate earnings and a better-than-expected report on first-quarter US economic growth.

Earnings remained at the forefront of the investor agenda as Amazon rocketed higher following strong results while disappointing figures from ExxonMobil weighed on the Dow.

US growth came in at 2.3 per cent in the January-March period, according to government data, down from 2.9 per cent in the final quarter of 2017 but better than analyst expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.1 per cent to end the week at 24,311.19.

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The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to finish at 2,669.91, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index increased a hair to 7,119.80.

US stocks have had a choppy week, alternating between worries about higher interest rates and ambivalence over corporate earnings that have been mostly good but sometimes not quite as strong as hoped for.

Amazon jumped 3.6 per cent after reporting its quarterly profit had more than doubled to US$1.6 billion due in part to strength in Amazon Web Services, prompting some analysts like Canaccord Genuity tech analyst Michael Graham to lift their targets for Amazon shares.

"Thumping is the best word we can think of to describe AWS in Q1 as revenue growth accelerated for the second straight quarter," Mr Graham said. "Meanwhile, the ecommerce business continues its strong growth."

Online travel booking firm Expedia surged 8.2 per cent as it reported a 15 per cent jump in first-quarter revenues to US$2.3 billion.

Dow member ExxonMobil dropped 3.8 per cent after earnings-per-share lagged analyst expectations, even as net income jumped 16 per cent to US$4.7 billion.

Analysts said Exxon Mobil's oil and gas production disappointed with the company reporting its weakest oil and gas output since 1999 at 3.9 million barrels of oil-equivalent, down 6.3 per cent.

US Steel sank 14.2 per cent despite reporting a net profit of US$18 million, up from a year-ago loss of US$180 million. Analysts were perturbed by some operational problems at a plant in Michigan that the company said would impact second-quarter results.

AFP