US stocks end weak quarter on upbeat note

VIDEO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished on a positive note on Thursday (March 29), rallying ahead of a holiday weekend, but were down for the quarter for the first time in nearly three years.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index, after two bruising sessions, gained 1.6 per cent to close the week at 7,063.45.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 1.1 per cent to end at 24,103.11, while the broad-based S&P 500 jumped 1.4 per cent to 2,640.87.

Despite Thursday's gains, the Dow and S&P 500 finished with losses for the quarter. The S&P 500 was declined 1.2 per cent, its first loss since the third quarter of 2015.

The first three months of 2018 saw the reemergence of volatility in US stocks after a placid 2017, with prices charging higher in January amid enthusiasm over US tax cuts, but dropping in February on worries about higher inflation and enduring more pressure in March over fears of a trade war.

The Personal Consumption Expenditures price index rose 1.8 percent year-over-year in February, according to data released Thursday. The core 12-month index, which excludes energy and food prices, moved up to 1.6 per cent, its highest level in 10 months.

The data is closely monitored by the Federal Reserve, which has set a 2 per cent inflation target.

Among the big stock movers, Intel led the Dow, rising 5 per cent, while Boeing, Cisco and ExxonMobil were among the companies winning more than 2 per cent.

Also gaining were tech giants Facebook, up 4.4 and Tesla, up 3.2 per cent. Facebook has been under pressure over a consumer data scandal and Tesla following a fatal car accident California.