Stocks Opened Lower on Weak GDP Data

U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday, following news that the U.S. economy sputtered in the first quarter to the lowest growth in two years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately dropped 73.62 points, or 0.41%, to 17,967.93. The S&P 500 shed 2.93 points, or 0.14%, to 2,092.22. The Nasdaq Composite was up 9.31 points, or 0.19%, to 4,872.45.

U.S. economic growth braked sharply in the first quarter to its slowest pace in two years as consumer spending softened and a strong dollar continued to undercut exports, but a pick-up in activity is anticipated given a buoyant labor market. Gross domestic product increased at a 0.5 percent annual rate, the weakest since the first quarter of 2014, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits climbed last week, but remained near the lowest level in four decades. The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 257,000.

Net income more than doubled at Ford Motor Co , which also reported its highest-ever quarterly operating margins on Thursday, thanks to robust pricing of its F-150 pickup trucks in North America and improved profit in Europe. Ford’s net income of $2.45 billion (1.68 billion pounds), or 61 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter through March 31, was up 113 percent from $1.3 billion, or 29 cents per diluted share, a year ago.

Comcast is buying DreamWorks Animation for approximately $3.55 billion. DreamWorks stockholders will receive $41 for each share they own. That’s a 24 percent premium to the company’s Wednesday closing price of $32.20. The companies put the deal’s value at about $3.8 billion.

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