Stocks End Ho-Hum Quarter on an Upswing; Healthcare, Tech Shares Lead Session Gains
Stocks ended the first quarter of 2014 with solid gains, belying what was largely a break-even quarter for the major equity indices. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite indices ended the quarter with small percentage gains while blue-chips measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 0.7% for the three-month span.
Supportive comments by Fed Chair Janet Yellen earlier Monday helped propel the quarter-ending rally. Speaking at a community reinvestment conference in Chicago this morning, Yellen steered clear of any direct comments on the timing of future increases in U.S. interest rates, although she said accommodative monetary policy was necessary to get the jobless rate below sustainable levels.
Most sectors in the S&P 500 ended the session with strong gains, paced by shares of healthcare stocks along with shares of mining and materials and industrial companies. Energy stocks struggled as crude oil and natural gas futures declined in commodities trading.
There were no significant economic reports issued today.
Crude oil for May delivery settled 10 cents lower at $101.57 per barrel while May natural gas was down 11 cents to $4.37 per 1 million BTU. April gold declined $10.40 to settle at $1,283.40 per ounce while May silver slipped 4 cents, ending at $19.73 per ounce. May copper was down a penny at $3.04 per pound.
Here's where the markets stood at the end of the session:
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 134.60 (+0.82%) to 16,457.66
S&P 500 up 14.72 (+0.79%) to 1,872.34
Nasdaq Composite Index up 43.23 (+1.04%) to 4,198.99
Hang Seng Index up 0.39%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.41%
FTSE 100 Index up 0.15%
(+) BIOF, Receives $275 mln buyout proposal from Greenlight Capital and James Brickman for the 64.5% of the company they already don't own.
(+) MU, Paces gains for tech stocks today after several analysts issue new research notes expecting strong Q2 results.
(+) CALM, Grows Q3 profit on strong sales, boosts quarterly dividend.
(-) UTIW, Reports wider-than-expected adjusted fiscal Q4 loss as revenue declined.
(-) PRAN, Prospective drug to treat Alzheimer's disease fails in clinical study.
(-) MNTA, U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear an appeal by Teva Pharmaceutical of a July 2013 ruling invalidating five of TEVA's patents.