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US futures edge higher as US economic growth slowed as expected
NEW YORK (AP) ' U.S. stock market futures held on to modest gains Friday after the government reported, as expected, that economic growth slowed in the first three months of the year.
Dow Jones industrial average futures added 0.7 percent to 13,169. Standard & Poor's 500 futures were up 0.17 percent at 1,399.20 and Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.34 percent to 2,729.50.
The Commerce Department said the economy expanded at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the January to March quarter, slower than the 3 percent gain in the last three months of 2011. Consumer spending, however, was at its fastest pace in more than a year.
The slowdown was predicted by economists, who also forecast that economic growth will accelerate as the year goes continues, and eventually outpace last year. In 2011, the economy grew just 1.7 percent. Growth is expected to accelerate to around 3 percent for all of 2012 as stronger job growth spurs increased consumer spending.
In Europe, market gains were also subdued after S&P downgraded Spain's debt a second time, and that nation reported another increase in its already staggering unemployment rate. Spain's economic problems have taken the spotlight in recent weeks.
Germany's DAX added 0.38 percent to 6,765, while France's CAC-40 rose 0.79 percent to 3,254. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.52 percent to 5,748.
Among the U.S. stocks in focus Friday, Ford Motor Co. shares were gaining premarket after the auto company's first-quarter results topped Wall Street expectations, despite a 45 percent profit decline blamed on plummeting sales in Europe.
Procter & Gamble Co., shares were declining after the consumer products giant reported a 16 percent profit slump for the first three months of the year, hit by higher costs for raw materials and restructuring charges.
And Merck & Co. Inc. edged higher after the pharmaceutical giant posted a 67 percent leap in first-quarter profit.