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US stocks mixed after poor GDP data

US stocks were mixed in morning trade Wednesday after data showed the economy unexpectedly shrank in the fourth quarter last year, largely due to sharp cuts in government defense spending.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.30 points (0.01 percent) at 13,953.12 at 1640 GMT.

The S&P 500-stock index edged down 0.40 point (0.03 percent) to 1,507.44.

But the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite scored a modest gain, adding 6.48 points (0.21 percent) at 3,160.14, helped by a surge from Amazon.

Before the opening bell, the Commerce Department reported the economy contracted at a 0.1 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, instead of the 1.0 percent expansion expected by analysts.

The report fed expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep in place its stimulus programs when it wraps up its two-day monetary policy meeting later Wednesday, its policy statement expected at 2:15 pm (1915 GMT).

"The Q4 GDP report is not strong, but it isn't as weak as it appears. Still, it is supportive of the Fed's easy-money policy that is expected to be reiterated again", Patrick O'Hare of said.

An upbeat January job growth report from payrolls firm ADP raised expectations for better employment numbers in Friday's jobs report.

Dow member Boeing led the blue chips higher, up 1.2 percent. The aerospace giant reported a sharp fourth-quarter fall in earnings, as expected, and put fixing the battery problem that led to the global grounding of its 787 Dreamliner as its first priority for 2013.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion slumped 5.5 percent after launching its make-or-break BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Amazon jumped 6.1 percent after the online retailer late Tuesday posted quarterly earnings that showed improving margins.

Natural-gas producer Chesapeake Energy climbed 5.5 percent after the company announced that its embattled chief executive Aubrey McClendon would retire.

Dunkin' Donuts was up 0.6 percent after the coffee-and-donuts chain expanded in Vietnam.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.03 percent from 1.99 percent late Tuesday, while the yield on the 30-year bond increased to 3.21 percent from 3.17 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.