* European banks borrow about 530 bln euros from ECB
* U.S. economy grows bit faster than forecast in Q4
* Monthly market volume drops 12 pct from yr ago
* Indexes up: Dow, S&P, Nasdaq all 0.2 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Wall Street rose slightly at the open on Wednesday after stronger-than-forecast U.S. growth data and as European banks borrowed more than a half trillion euros as part of an effort to stabilize the euro zone’s financial system.
Major indexes added to the previous day’s gains that catapulted the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 above key levels to close at four year highs.
Data showed the U.S. economy grew slightly faster than initially thought in the fourth quarter on firmer consumer and business spending.
“This shows a steady improvement despite all the volatility in stock prices we had last year and shows that we are nowhere near lapsing back to recession,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Group in New York.
Even though the figure looks back to the end of 2011, it could have a modest impact on the market as it confirms the momentum the world’s largest economy had coming into 2012.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 26.26 points, or 0.20 percent, at 13,031.38. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 3.18 points, or 0.23 percent, at 1,375.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 6.86 points, or 0.23 percent, at 2,993.62.
European banks grabbed a more-than-expected 530 billion euros in the European Central Bank’s second offering of low-cost 3-year loans, fueling hopes more credit will flow to businesses and government borrowing costs will ease further.
The cash injection takes the European credit crisis out of the spotlight in the short term, leaving traders and investors to focus on fundamentals according to Stephen Wood, chief market strategist at Russell Investments in New York.
An index of European bank shares rose 1.5 percent while a pan European benchmark index added 0.6 percent.
The Dow closed above 13,000 for the first time since May 2008 on Tuesday, while the S&P ended above 1,370, its May 2011 intraday high, possibly enticing money managers afraid to miss out on gains. But some analysts warned this year’s rally has come in lighter volume, and further gains could trigger selling.
Daily volume on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq has averaged 6.87 billion shares in February. The average in February 2011 was 7.81 billion.