U.S. stocks rally as banks gain, oil prices rise

02 April 2017, 01:16 | Andres Norman

USA stock markets closed higher on Thursday, led by financial shares, after data showed U.S. economic growth was stronger than previously reported last quarter, helped by robust consumer spending, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq set a record closing high.

Wall Street closed out a solid quarter Friday with a day of listless trading that ended on a soft note.

Personal income rose 0.4 percent in February, in line with expectations, while consumer spending rose 0.1 percent, below an expected increase of 0.2 percent.

The Nasdaq fell 2.61, or 0.04 percent, to 5,911.74. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Singapore and Jakarta retreated while Taiwan and Manila gained.

The highly profitable firms on the Dow's roster also boast a higher dividend yield than those in the S&P: 2.4% on average, compared with 2.0%.

The S&P 500 posted 20 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 99 new highs and 19 new lows. Energy stocks were down the most as the price of crude oil headed lower.

Financial stocks in the U.S. benefitted with regional banks in particular enjoyed sharp moves higher.

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Immediately when this government was formed, the prime minister took a presentation and I was present. The sources who report about any tax evasion can not be allowed to be identified, he pointed out.

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KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average slid 40 points, or 0.2 percent, to 20,687 as of 11:30 a.m. The S&P 500 added 6.93 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,368.06.

CHINESE MANUFACTURING: Manufacturing activity accelerated in March in what the government said is a sign economic growth is stabilizing.

"We'll get a much better idea of how much faith investors have in [U.S. President Donald] Trump and therefore the rally early on in the quarter, with some investors possibly already seeing this as the dip that should be bought", he added. "A bad meeting with President Xi would raise the prospect of a trade war", said Tim Condon of ING in a report.

US real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, above market consensus of 2.0 percent, according to the third estimate released by the Commerce Department. It said consumer spending increased more than expected.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) was up over 8% to $49.78 and top riser on S&P500 as it offloaded its Canadian oil sands assets, following on from recent similar moves by Royal Dutch Shell PLC (LON: RDSA) and Marathon Oil Corp (NYSE:MRO). The S&P 500 reported a loss of -0.04% and the Nasdaq reported a gain of 1.49%. The greenback rose as Fed speakers suggested rates may need to rise faster than the market now anticipates, while the euro weakened as ECB officials hinted the bank would stick with its loose monetary policy. On the Nasdaq, 1,119 issues rose and 960 fell.

March 31 USA stocks were little changed on Friday, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average firmly on course to book their biggest first-quarter gains in four years. Crude oil prices for May delivery rose 1.7% to settle at $50.35 per barrel, improving on gains made on Wednesday (29 March).

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