US stocks end sharply lower after growth report

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(Close): US stock markets closed sharply lower on Friday, after the US government reported that economic growth slowed at the end of last year.

The Dow Jones fell 251.90 points to close at 17,164.95.

The S&P 500 index shed 26.26 points to 1,994.99, while the tech-focused Nasdaq lost 48.12 points to finish at 4,635.24.

Earlier on Friday, the Commerce Department said the US economy expanded at a 2.6% rate in the fourth quarter.

That growth rate for the October to December period is significantly slower than the rate of economic growth earlier in 2014: in the second quarter, the US economy saw gains of 4.6%, and the annual rate was 5% in the third quarter.


Shake Shack, the US burger chain, made its New York Stock Exchange debut and shares in the company ended the day up 119% from their $21 opening price.

Visa, the world's largest credit and debit card company, ended up nearly 3% after a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday.

A good holiday season and a strengthening US job market encouraged people to spend.

Online commerce giant Amazon closed up over 13% after strong quarterly earnings on Thursday. North American sales had surged during the holiday quarter.

Meanwhile, shares in Ugg boot manufacturer Deckers Outdoor fell almost 20% after the firm cut its full-year forecast. Demand for Ugg sheepskin footwear has slowed in the US.