GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares up at end of down week, oil prices retreat

NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) – Wall Street and European stocks edged ahead on Friday but remained en route to a losing week while U.S. Treasury debt prices jumped on government data indicating U.S. economic growth was slowing.

Brent oil fell below $50 a barrel after Thursday’s spike on Saudi-led air attacks in Yemen, and the dollar was down.

Investors awaited a speech on monetary policy on Friday by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that may contain hints on when U.S. interest rates may be increased.

Wall Street’s key indexes were modestly ahead after the Commerce Department said 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 rose 9.81 points, or 0.06 percent, to 17,688.04, the S&P500 was up 2.62 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,058.77 and the Nasdaq Composite added 14.03 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,877.39.

Healthcare stocks helped buoy the indexes that have been on a four-session losing streak, with biotech stocks bouncing 2.3 percent higher after suffering a 7 percent drop in the prior four sessions. Energy was the worst performing sector as crude prices resumed their decline.

“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 had their biggest weekly fall of the year but were ahead for the day.

The pan European FTSEurofirst 300 of top companies ended up 0.22 percent for the day. For the week the FTSEurofirst 300 was down 2.1 percent, but that was only a dent in its nearly 15 percent gains for the past three months.

Asian shares dropped overnight.

In New York, Treasury yields fell on the GDP data, which reinforced opinions the Fed would push back the launch of its first interest rate hikes since 2006. Benchmark 10-year notes were last up 13/32 in price to yield 1.96 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 dipped against the yen and Swiss franc.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, fell 0.192 points or 0.2 percent, to 97.244. The yen was last up 0.03 percent, at $119.2100. and the euro at $1.0908, up 0.23 percent.

Oil investors grew less worried about the escalating conflict in Yemen and focused on new supplies possibly coming to market after an Iranian nuclear deal.

U.S. crude was down 3 percent at $49.92 a barrel after jumping 4.5 percent, while Brent was down 2.35 percent at $57.80.