Stock market opens lower after weaker-than-expected US growth late last year



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U.S. stock indexes edged slightly lower in early trading Friday after the U.S. economy slowed more sharply than expected in the final three months of 2014. Utilities stocks were among the biggest decliners.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,181 as of 10:06 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped three points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,107. The Nasdaq composite was down 10 points, or 0.2 percent, at 4,977.

U.S. ECONOMY: The Commerce Department said that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the October-December quarter, weaker than the 2.6 percent first estimated last month. The latest estimate marks a major slowdown from the third quarter, which had the strongest growth in 11 years. For all of 2014, the economy expanded 2.4 percent, up slightly from 2.2 percent growth in 2013.

SECTOR VIEW: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 moved lower, with utilities stocks sliding the most. The sector is down 5 percent this year. Consumer staples stocks led the gainers.

PENNEY PINCHED: Shares in J.C. Penney slumped 8.2 percent, a day after the department store chain reported a surprise loss as expenses increased. The stock lost 74 cents to $8.38.

UNDERWEIGHT: Weight Watchers slid 35.5 percent after the weight-loss program operator issued an outlook late Thursday for this year's profits that fell far below Wall Street's expectations. The company fell $6.46 to $11.09.

MONSTER GAINS: Investors sent shares in Monster Beverage sharply higher a day after the energy drink seller reported higher fourth-quarter earnings and improved sales. The stock surged $15.91, or 12.8 percent, to $140.65.

OVERSEAS MARKETS: In Europe, Germany's DAX gained 0.1 percent, while France's CAC-40 was up 0.2 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent. In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent after Japan reported mixed economic data. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.3 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 75 cents at $48.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday, the contract fell $2.82 to close at $48.17 a barrel.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices didn't move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.03 percent.


AP Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this story.

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