* Fourth-qtr GDP up 2.1 pct vs previous estimate of 1.9 pct
* Lululemon slumps after weak first-quarter outlook
* Indexes up: Dow 0.40 pct, S&P 0.31 pct, Nasdaq 0.26 pct
(Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
March 30 U.S. stocks were higher in morning
trading on Thursday as bank stocks gained after data showed that
the domestic economy grew at a faster pace in the fourth-quarter
than previously estimated.
Gross domestic product increased 2.1 percent, compared with
the previously reported 1.9 percent, the Commerce Department
Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan
were all up between 0.8-1.6 percent, while Goldman
Sachs' 1.4 percent rise helped lift the Dow.
The market has been range bound in the past few days as
investors look for new catalysts and assess the impact of
Republicans' failure to pass a healthcare bill on tax reform and
the rest of President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda, hopes
for which have helped drive stocks to record highs.
But the rally may be near its peak, according to a Reuters
poll of strategists, who forecast U.S. shares will gain less
than 3 percent between now and year-end. The S&P had risen 10.3
percent since the U.S. election through Wednesday's close.
The rapid climb in equities has raised concerns regarding
valuations, with the S&P 500 trading at nearly 18 times earnings
estimates for the next 12 months against its long-term average
of 15 times.
The market will be looking at quarterly earnings to see if
the lofty valuations can be supported. First-quarter earnings
for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 10.1 percent,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"It's the end of the quarter and investors are buying
whatever little dip that we've seen," said Paul Nolte, portfolio
manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.
"The market has been quiet in the past few days and are
looking forward to the first-quarter earnings in the absence of
any major economic data."
At 10:50 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was
up 82.9 points, or 0.4 percent, at 20,742.22.
The S&P 500 was up 7.54 points, or 0.31 percent, at
The Nasdaq Composite was up 15.52 points, or 0.26
percent, at 5,913.06.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the
financial index's 0.93 percent rise leading the
Investors are also watching comments from a host of Federal
Reserve officials on clues for the path forward for interest
Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said she sees more
rate hikes this year as the U.S. economy is expected to rebound
from what looks like a weak first quarter.
Dallas Fed chief Robert Kaplan, San Francisco Fed head John
Williams and New York Fed President William Dudley are also
scheduled to make appearances.
Shares of Lululemon Athletica plunged as much as
22.6 percent to a more than one-year low of $51.30 after the
Canadian yoga and leisure apparel retailer said first-quarter
comparable sales were expected to fall.
ConocoPhillips rose 7.8 percent to $49.50 after the
company said it agreed to sell oil sands and western Canadian
natural gas assets to Cenovus Energy. Cenovus was down
10.9 percent at $11.65.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,642
to 1,103. On the Nasdaq, 1,524 issues rose and 1,096 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 14 new 52-week highs and no new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 67 new highs and 11 new lows.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)