US stocks rally in final session of buoyant Q1

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK - Wall Street stocks rallied on Friday, concluding a winning first quarter on a positive note on signs of moderating inflation and receding fear over bank industry instability.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 1.3 per cent at 33,274.15.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 1.4 per cent to 4,109.31, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.7 per cent to 12,221.91.

The annual personal consumption expenditures index (PCE) slowed to 5 per cent in February from 5.3 per cent a month earlier. The benchmark is closely watched by the Federal Reserve, which has been battling rising consumer prices for more than a year.

While the decline in headline inflation is positive news for the Fed, it shows pricing pressures remain elevated well above the US central bank’s long-term target of 2 per cent.

Still, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note retreated, suggesting investors see lower odds for more Fed interest rate hikes.

Investors have also been encouraged by the latest developments in the banking industry turmoil, with the industry apparently having stabilised after three US banks failed earlier this month.

“We had a major test of the US financial system,” said Mr Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investments. “It bent but didn’t break.”

Mr Sarhan said the market’s ability to rally at this juncture is “very bullish.”

All three major indices posted gains for the quarter, although the Dow’s quarterly gain amounted to less than 0.4 per cent.

The S&P 500 rose around 7 per cent, while the Nasdaq jumped 16.8 per cent. AFP

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