U.S. stocks retreat amid economic data

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Despite the downbeat finish to the day, the stock market posted strong gains for the quarter.

Wall Street gained on Thursday, led by financial shares, after data showed US economic growth was stronger than previously reported last quarter, helped by robust consumer spending, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq set a record closing high.

"We continue to see decent-to-improving economic data primarily in employment", said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in NY. Energy stocks were down the most, while utilities led the gainers.

After four hours of trading on Friday, the Dow was trading around 0.05 percent lower while the S&P 500 managed a slender gain of 0.01 percent. The S&P 500 backed off 0.2% and the Nasdaq gave up its earlier gains to close flat.

The tech-heavy index was up nine points at 1.00pm at 5,923, thanks in no small part to a 49% rise for Akari Therapeutics PLC (BASDAQ:AKTX).

Dow Jones Industrial Average surged almost 70 points, aided by Goldman Sachs & United Health contributing the most to the gains.

Wall Street closed out a solid quarter Friday with a day of listless trading that ended on a soft note.

BlackBerry Ltd, which said it expects to be profitable on an adjusted basis in 2018 and almost halved its operating costs, was one of the bright spots in the market.

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The S&P 500 index showed eight 52-week highs and one low, while the Nasdaq recorded 56 highs and 10 lows.

In economic news, the USA economy grew at a rate of 2.1% in the final quarter of 2016, surpassing expectations.

The Russell 2000 is up 31.28 points, or 2.3 percent.

USA stock futures indicated moderate losses at the open for Wall Street on Friday, as the Dow industrials looked on track for a record-breaking quarter. Meanwhile, an inflation gauge closely watched by the Federal Reserve increased 2.1 per cent in February compared to a year ago, a five-year high.

Stocks in general have benefited from the recent "Trump rally", which pushed stocks higher during the first three months of the year. Shares of real estate companies climbed 0.5%. AutoNation fell $1.20, or 2.8 per cent, to $42.29. The health care information technology company slid 2.7 per cent after it reported disappointing fourth-quarter revenue.

Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: WFC) added 1.02%, First Horizon National Corp (NYSE: FHN) added 3% to $18.87.

BlackBerry Limited reported higher-than-expected sales and adjusted profit in the fourth quarter.

Shares in ConocoPhillips jumped almost 6% after the energy company announced it was selling oil sands and western Canadian natural gas assets to Cenovus Energy for 17.7 billion Canadian dollars ($13.3bn; £10.6bn).

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