Stocks finished higher Friday. The Dow was up 211 points to 25,928, while the S&P 500 added 18 points to 2,834. The Nasdaq gained 60 points to 7,729.
The major averages finished the week on a positive note, capping the best quarterly performance for the S&P 500 since 2009. Trade news boosted sentiment, with Steve Mnuchin calling this week’s talks between China and the United States “productive.” On the data front, a report showed new home sales jumped to the highest level in a year in February, while the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment reading for March topped expectations. Separately, an update from the Commerce Department showed core inflation rose 1.8% year-over-year in January, the slowest pace in 11 months.
Nine of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended in positive territory, with Industrials and Health Care shares pacing the gains. CarMax was the best performing stock in the index, climbing 9.6% to $69.80 after the auto retailer topped Wall Street earnings projections. Ride-sharing company Lyft rose 8.0% to $78.29 in its first day of public trading.
Breadth was positive on issues by roughly 3:2 on both the NYSE and the Nasdaq. Composite NYSE volume was approximately 3.7 billion shares.
Treasuries were weaker, with the yield on the 10-year note rising two basis points to 2.40%. The yield on the three-month T-Bill fell to 2.38%, snapping a five-session streak of an inversion between the two maturities. In commodities, WTI crude finished 1.5% higher at $60.18/barrel, capping its best quarterly performance since 2009.
For the week, the S&P 500 added 1.2%, finishing 1.8% higher for March and up 13.1% in the first quarter, which represented the best three-month start to a year since 1998. The Dow rallied 1.7% this week, though the blue-chip index gained less than 0.1% in March to leave it 11.2% higher for the quarter. The Nasdaq climbed 1.1% this week to round out a 2.6% monthly advance and a 16.5% first quarter gain.