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Dollar Weakens, Treasuries Gain as U.S. GDP Slows; Stocks Rise

Dollar Index Drops to Lowest Since 2008 on Fed
The Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against those of six major trading partners, fell for an eighth day, the longest stretch of losses since March 2009. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

The Dollar Index slid to the lowest level since 2008, Treasuries rose and gold rallied to a record after economic growth slowed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed an almost three-year high as rising earnings and takeovers overshadowed the report on gross domestic product.

The Dollar Index tumbled 0.6 percent at 4:10 p.m. New York time after slumping to 72.871, an almost three-year low. It declined for an eighth straight day, its longest slump since 2009. Ten-year Treasury yields lost five basis points to 3.31 percent, gold jumped as much as 1.4 percent to $1,538.80 an ounce and silver rose for a second day. The S&P 500 climbed 0.4 percent to 1,360.48 while the Russell 2000 Index of smaller U.S. stocks rallied to a record for a second straight day.

The dollar and Treasuries reacted to government data showing gross domestic product expanded at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter. That trailed the 2 percent median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists, reinforcing the Federal Reserve’s assessment that the “moderate” economic recovery still requires record-low interest rates. A separate report showed jobless claims unexpectedly increased.

“We’re all reacting to the numbers and looking for sustainable growth,” said Firas Askari, head currency trader in Toronto at Bank of Montreal. “The dollar weakness is a trend that’s hard to break,” he said. “The momentum we did seem to be having in the U.S. economy seems to be hitting some headwinds. Best case scenario: the U.S. economy is lukewarm.”

Dollar Slumps

The dollar weakened against 11 of 16 major peers, losing more than 0.7 percent versus the yen and South Korean won. It pared losses after slumping as much as 0.6 percent against the euro to breach $1.48 for the first time since December 2009.

Treasuries pared gains after a U.S. auction of $29 billion in seven-year notes drew weaker-than-average demand. The securities yielded 2.712 percent compared with a forecast of 2.698 percent in a Bloomberg News survey of nine of the Fed’s primary dealers. The bid-to-cover ratio, which gauges demand by comparing total bids with the amount of debt offered, was 2.63, the lowest since November, versus a 2.89 average at the past 10 sales. Bonds headed for the biggest monthly gain since August after Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday interest rates will likely remain low.

Insurers in the S&P 500 rallied 1.7 percent as Allstate Corp., Aflac Inc. and Lincoln National Corp. posted first-quarter earnings that topped estimates.

Earnings Season

Sprint Nextel Corp. rose 6.7 percent as the third-largest U.S. mobile-phone carrier reported a narrower loss after paring costs to offset contract-customer defections. Constellation Energy Group Inc. added 5.7 percent as Exelon Corp. offered $7.9 billion for the power producer.

The S&P 500 has rallied 8.2 percent in 2011 amid higher-than-expected profit and reports on manufacturing and housing bolstered investors’ confidence. Earnings-per-share beat estimates at more than three-quarters of the 269 companies in the S&P 500 that reported results since April 11, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

More than two stocks advanced for each that declined in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Deutsche Bank AG, Germany’s biggest bank, surged 5.1 percent after earnings beat estimates. SAP AG, the largest maker of business-management software, slid 6.4 percent after reporting smaller-than-expected growth in profit.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 1.3 percent to a two-month high as Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average rallied 1.6 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell a fifth day, dropping 1.3 percent on speculation the government will increase interest rates as soon as next week to tame inflation. India’s index dropped 0.8 percent, declining for a fourth day, after food inflation accelerated to a three-week high.

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