Economic growth slowed down in the United States during the first quarter of 2011 according to a report released today by the U.S. Commerce Department, while a report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose unexpectedly.

The Advanced GDP estimate for the first quarter showed that the U.S. economy expanded at an annual pace of 1.8 percent, down from the prior expansion of 3.1% in the fourth quarter of 2010, and below median estimates of 2.0 percent.

Moreover, jobless claims rose in the week ending April 23, to reach 429,000 up from the prior revised estimate of 404,000 and also above median estimates of 395,000, where this indicates that labor market conditions were still somewhat weak in April.

Meanwhile, earnings from major U.S. companies were mixed on Thursday, where a number of companies reported their financial results for the first quarter of 2011, where Exxon Mobil Corp, Procter & Gamble, and CME Group Inc were among several other firms that reported their earnings, and results today were somewhat disappointing.

Stocks in the United States fluctuated at opening on Thursday, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by nearly 0.10% to trade around 12,700, while the S&P 500 index was nearly unchanged to trade around 1,356. European stock indexes were mixed on Thursday before closing, where FTSE 100 was nearly unchanged trading at 6065 and the DAX was up by nearly 0.60% to trade at 7450.

The U.S. dollar declined against most major currencies, as the Fed’s Chairman, Ben Bernanke, confirmed to markets that the Fed will maintain their loose monetary policy, which sent the U.S. dollar tumbling across the board, while gold prices inclined to set a new all-time record high above $1535 an ounce, while crude oil prices slightly eased after touching the highest level since June 2008 above $113 a barrel.

Originally posted here

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