U.S. Stock Futures Hold Gains Despite Soft GDP

By Mike Bird and Ese Erheriene Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. stock futures were little changed after data showed the U.S. economy's output grew at the slowest pace in three years during the first quarter.

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S&P 500 futures were up less than 0.1%, while U.S. government bonds weakened slightly, sending yields higher.

Gross domestic product rose 0.7% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, the Commerce Department said. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 1% growth.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was recently 2.327%, according to Tradeweb, up from 2.311% shortly before the release and 2.298% Thursday.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against 16 others, was recently down less than 0.1%.

Earlier, the euro and government bond yields jumped on surprisingly strong eurozone inflation figures. The Stoxx Europe 600 index slipped 0.2%.

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Official figures showed the eurozone's core inflation rate -- which excludes volatile food and energy prices -- at 1.2%, the highest level since 2013. Analysts were expecting a rise of 1%.

The euro was recently up 0.4% against the dollar at $1.0914.

The euro had dropped Thursday on European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's insistence that the era of easy monetary policy isn't over in Europe.

"There is clearly a risk that we could stand at the June meeting with an ECB that changes its forward guidance in a more hawkish direction provided the cyclical situation looks good," said Pernille Bomholdt Henneberg, chief analyst at Danske Bank.

Despite the cooling in European stocks toward the end of the week, European equity funds recorded their strongest inflows in more than a year, according to EPFR Global data.

In the week to April 26, $2.4 billion entered European equity funds, which included the jump in equity prices -- particularly in the banking sector -- that came after the first round of the French presidential election. Those net flows are the strongest into European equities since December 2015.

"Europe is overweight financials, commodities and industrials relative to the U.S.," said David Stubbs, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

"With stronger growth at home, a cyclical upswing globally, the euro competitive and trade recovering you should see an uptick -- this should be the year that earnings growth arrives," he added.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts see continued gains for European equities in the next year, expecting the Stoxx Europe 600 index to rise to 420 from 387 currently, a gain of around 8.5%, on improved earnings.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.3%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.3%. China's Shenzhen A-share index bucked the trend, rising 0.4%.

South Korea's Kospi closed 0.2% lower after President Donald Trump said he wanted to renegotiate a trade deal with the country, in an interview with Reuters.

Mr. Trump also said a major conflict over North Korea's nuclear ambition is possible.

"The fact there's potential for a showdown with North Korea, that's always going to worry investors in Japan," said Andrew Sullivan, managing director of sales trading at Haitong International Securities. "You [might] get the North Koreans put into a corner and they feel they just have to do something...One risks pushing them too far."

Write to Mike Bird at Mike.Bird@wsj.com and Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 28, 2017 09:06 ET (13:06 GMT)