By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter as weak business spending and a wider trade deficit offset the fastest pace of consumer spending since 2006. The slowdown followed two back-to-back quarters of bullish growth and is likely to be short-lived given the enormous tailwind from lower gasoline prices. Other data on Friday showed consumer sentiment jumped to an 11-year high in January. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.6 percent annual pace after the third quarter's spectacular 5 percent rate, the Commerce Department said in its first fourth-quarter GDP snapshot on Friday Most economists believe fundamentals in the United States are strong enough to cushion the blow on growth from weakening overseas economies.
U.S. stocks fell on Friday, pressured by concern over euro zone stability and its potential impact on U.S. corporate results and by domestic economic growth data. U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter as weak business spending and a wider trade deficit offset the fastest pace of consumer spending since 2006. Adding to concerns, Greece's finance minister said the government would not cooperate with the European Union and International Monetary Fund mission bankrolling the country and would not seek an extension to the bailout program. He said that while sluggish growth in the fourth quarter was disappointing, consumer spending was a bright spot.
(Reuters) - Shares of trendy hamburger chain Shake Shack Inc soared 150 percent in their first few minutes of trading on Friday, valuing the company that grew out of a hotdog cart in New York's Madison Square Park at nearly $2 billion.
MasterCard Inc , the world's No. 2 debit and credit card company, reported a better-than-expected profit for the holiday shopping quarter as customers dug deeper into their pockets. MasterCard and larger rival Visa Inc have been benefiting as more people use cards instead of cash across the world. The dollar, which gained nearly 13 percent in 2014, is expected to continue to be a headwind through the year on both revenue and the bottom line, MasterCard said on a conference call on Friday. MasterCard's worldwide purchase volume increased 12.1 percent to $858 billion in local currency terms during the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, while its cross-border volumes rose 19 percent.
By Ernest Scheyder WILLISTON, N.D. (Reuters) - Chevron Corp , the second-largest U.S. oil producer, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as sales of chemicals, lubricants and other refined products helped offset plunging crude prices . Royal Dutch Shell , a so-called international oil company like Chevron, said on Thursday it would cut its spending over the next three years by $15 billion. Taking similar steps, Chevron executives slashed the company's 2015 capital budget by 13 percent to $35 billion. "We enter 2015 with the financial strength to meet the challenges of a volatile crude price environment and with significant efforts under way to manage to a lower cost structure," Chief Executive Officer John Watson said in a statement.