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GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks flat as earnings disappoint Wall St; dollar hits 7-week high

Angela Moon
Friday, 17 Jan 2014 | 1:52 PM ET

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* Sterling surges on British retail sales

* Wall Street edges lower as Intel, GE weigh after results

* European shares extend new-year rally

NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Wall Street edged lower on Friday, underperforming equity markets in Europe following a slew of disappointing corporate earnings, while the dollar extended gains to hit a seven-week high.

The S&P 500 was lower by afternoon session in New York as declines in Intel and General Electric outweighed the advance in American Express in the wake of their quarterly earnings.

In Europe, however, shares rose in brisk volumes, extending their new-year rally as expectations of a pick up in global growth prompted investors to buy mining stocks.

The MSCI all-country world index, a measure of global equity markets, was little changed, finishing down 0.1 percent.

A strong British retail sales figure shook the pound out of a week-long torpor on Friday while the New Zealand dollar was the biggest decliner among major currencies, halting a run to nine-month highs.

On Wall Street, Intel and General Electric were among the biggest decliners. Shares of Intel Corp lost 3.5 percent to $25.61, weighing on all three major U.S. indexes after the chipmaker's fourth-quarter earnings missed expectations by a penny and the company gave a lukewarm forecast for revenue for the current quarter.

General Electric lost 2.6 percent to $26.48. The conglomerate posted a slightly better-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue, propelled by its oil pumps and jet engines businesses, but its full-year profit margins were disappointing.

But the Dow outperformed the broader S&P 500 index as American Express shares climbed 4.9 percent to $92.06 after reporting strong quarterly results late on Thursday.

"The market is frustrated at the moment, there is no reason to push higher," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

"There are mixed earnings and even the ones that are coming in stronger, people are taking advantage and using those as sources of cash, so they are taking some money off the table, which is just holding us here."

The dollar extended gains in afternoon session in New York, hitting a seven-week high after a round of mixed U.S. data that overall supported the view the world's largest economy was steadily gaining steam, keeping the Federal Reserve on track to continue to reduce its stimulus.

The euro fell 0.7 percent against the dollar to $1.3524 . The dollar index, a gauge of the dollar's value versus six major currencies, rose 0.4 percent to 81.268.

Data showed U.S. industrial output rose at its fastest clip in 3-1/2 years in the fourth quarter. Separately, ground-breaking for new homes last month dropped 9.8 percent, the largest percentage decline since April, though housing starts were coming off a multi-year high in November.

"Overall, the U.S. economy is making steady, if uneven, progress and that should keep intact expectations for sustained Fed tapering this year," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.

In Treasuries, the benchmark 10-year note was up 3/32, with the yield at 2.8323 percent.

In the currency market, the British pound was one of the biggest movers of the day, rising 0.3 percent to $1.6411 following UK retail sales data that showed a 2.6 percent increase in December.

Stocks also rose in the region as gains in consumer cyclicals helped the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index gain 0.5 percent to close at 1,345.02 points, a level not seen in 5-1/2 years.

The region's quarterly earnings season does not pick up until next week. STOXX Europe 600 companies are seen missing consensus by 0.4 percent on revenues and by 0.9 percent on earnings, according to StarMine SmartEstimates, which focuses on the predictions by the most accurate analysts.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 47.93 points, or 0.29 percent, at 16,464.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 3.52 points, or 0.19 percent, at 1,842.37. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 11.97 points, or 0.28 percent, at 4,206.72.

In commodities, Brent oil rose more than $1, driven by demand for heating fuels and rising gasoline prices, but gains were offset by expectations for increased supply from Libya and Iran.

Brent reversed earlier losses to trade near $107 a barrel by mid-day. Brent oil for March delivery, which became the front-month contract following the expiry of the February contract on Thursday, rose $1.04 to $106.79 a barrel.

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INTC
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GE
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AXP
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