Published: Sun, April 02, 2017
Markets | By Lucia Cruz

Stocks end 1Q with solid gains after day of listless trading

The S&P 500, Nasdaq and the Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down slightly, with financials companies posting the biggest decline. Based on this, the Dow could end up the week with a gain of around 0.6 percent in the current week.

Friday marks the end of the week, month and quarter.

For the month, the Nasdaq rose 1.7%, its fifth straight advance - leaving it up more than 21% over the past 12 months.

On the S&P 500 Expedia was the biggest loser with a 1.9% fall.

For the first quarter, the Nasdaq is set to deliver the best return of the three main indexes, with a almost 10% gain as of Thursday's close.

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The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 87 new highs and 15 new lows. May silver ended at $18.206 an ounce, down 4.6 cents, or 0.3%. Rising oil prices only stoked the bullish flames, with the S&P 500 Index ( SPX ) climbing back into the black for the month, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) notching a record high close. "March appears to just be a natural pullback at the minute, but it's still early to say", said Erlam. President Donald Trump's setback on his flagship health-care bill has cast a shadow on his broader fiscal agenda, while French elections could be a litmus test for the rise of European populism.

Data and Fed speakers: The rate of inflation in consumer goods and services topped 2% in February for the first time since 2012. "The Chicago PMI then rose to a better than forecast 57.7, something that was countered by a worse than estimated drop in consumer sentiment to 96.9", Campbell noted. Following this morning's strong inflation data, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard took a more dovish tone than his fellow central bankers, saying, "This is not an environment where the data is screaming at the Fed that you have to move". The stock added $4.52 to $37.26.

Shares in FMC also got a lift after the company agreed to buy part of DuPont's crop protection business. (FMC) in exchange for $1.2 billion in cash and FMC Health and Nutrition.

In corporate news, Lululemon Athletica shares plunged 23 percent after the Canadian yoga and leisure apparel retailer said first-quarter comparable sales were expected to fall. All three are set for solid gains for the first quarter, and the Dow is on track to post its sixth straight quarterly gain, the longest such streak since 2006. One of the best quarterly performances in the region came from the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index, which finished up 9.6%.

ENERGY SLUMP: Several energy companies were down as oil prices headed lower. The ICE Dollar Index was trading modestly higher. That's the smallest average since the fourth quarter of 1965, when Lyndon B. Johnson was the US president.

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