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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is seen on a screen (front) during news conference in Berlin, in front of the German share price index DAX board at the stock exchange in Frankfurt March 23, 2015, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Global shares advance at end of down week, oil prices retreat

NEW YORK – Wall Street and European stocks edged ahead on Friday but remained en route to a losing week as U.S. Treasury debt yields declined on government data indicating U.S. economic growth was slowing.

Trading in many markets was choppy, with oil dropping back after Thursday’s spike on Saudi-led air attacks in Yemen and investors awaiting a speech on monetary policy later on Friday by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

In currency markets, the dollar was mixed as the euro slipped against the dollar to below $1.09, according to Thomson Reuters.

Wall Street’s key indices were ahead after the U.S. Commerce Department reported U.S. gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter and after-tax corporate profits had their biggest drop since early 2011. The economy grew at a 5 percent rate in the third quarter.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was last up 31.03 points, or 0.18 percent, to 17,709.26, the S&P 500 <.SPX> was ahead 4.82 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,060.97 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 20.05 points, or 0.41 percent, to 4,883.41.

“Yellen will be the big news of the day, certainly, so I don’t expect a lot of movement before that,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

European shares were heading for their biggest weekly fall of the year but were ahead for the day.

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The pan European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> of top companies was last up 0.40 percent. For the week the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 1.7 percent, its worst run since mid-December but only a dent in its 18 percent gains for the past three months.

Asian shares dropped overnight.

In New York, Treasury yields fell on the GDP data, which reinforced opinions and forecasts that the Fed would push back the launch of its first interest rate hike since 2006. Benchmark 10-year notes <US10YT=RR> were last up 12/32 in price to yield 1.97 percent, down from 2.00 percent late on Thursday.

Yellen’s scheduled speech in San Francisco was also curbing trading in the dollar, which posted minor gains against the euro and slipped slightly against the yen and Swiss franc as bullish bets on the long-rising dollar thinned.

The dollar index <.DXY>, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, fell 0.085 points or 0.09 percent, to 97.351. The yen <JPY=> was last down 0.08 percent, at $119.0900, and the euro at $1.0875, off 0.08 percent.

Crude oil prices were lower due to the dollar’s bounce and as investors reassessed the potential impact of the escalating conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and allies carried out air strikes on Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on Thursday and Friday.

U.S. crude <CLc1> was down 2.5 percent at $50.15 a barrel after jumping 4.5 percent, while Brent <LCOc1> was down 2.25 percent at $57.81. [O/R]

The Saudi-led operation has not affected the oil facilities of major Gulf producers, but the fear is the conflict could spread and further unsettle the Middle East and disrupt oil shipments.

(Additional Reporting By Marc Jones, Jemima Kelly and Nigel Stephenson in London and Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

This article was written by Michael Connor from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.