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Close Update: U.S. Stocks Climb With Nasdaq, S&P 500 at Highest Level of Month

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Stocks in the U.S. strengthened on Friday, heading into the long Memorial Day weekend, with the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 moving to the highest levels this month.

Markets briefly pulled back but then retraced gains after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at Harvard University this afternoon when she said an interest rate hike will be appropriate if the domestic economy continues to improve. She also said the labor market has improved by nearly every measure and wage growth has progressed but output growth has been slow.

Earlier economic data showed that Q1 GDP growth was revised to up 0.8%, below expectations but up from the previous figure estimate. The University of Michigan said consumer sentiment was 94.7 in May, below expectations but up from 89 in April.

All but seven of the 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average components rose, with Verizon ( VZ ) the top gainer on news of an agreement in its workers' strike. The telecommunications services sector on the S&P 500 was up 0.6%, the biggest increase among the 10 groupings after a 0.7% advance in financials. All the sectors posted advances save for materials, which was unchanged by the end of the regular session.

Here's where the markets stood at the close:

US MARKETS

Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 44.93 points (+0.25%)

S&P 500 was up 8.96 points (+0.43%)

Nasdaq Composite Index was up 31.74 points (+0.65%)

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

FTSE 100 was up 0.08%

Nikkei 225 was up 0.37%

Hang Seng Index was up 0.88%

Shanghai China Composite Index was down 0.05%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) BIG (+14.1%) Fiscal Q1 beats views, raises FY EPS guidance

(+) MKTO (+11.3%) Reportedly in buyout talks with Vista Equity

(+) RLYP (+8.8%) Potassium-lowering drug rival AZN (-1%) gets complete response letter from FDA

(+) VRX (+5.5%) Reportedly turned down takeover bid from Takeda, TPG

(+) VZ (+0.9%) Deal reached in workers' strike

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) HERO (-47.4%) Strikes restructuring deal with lenders

(-) UNXL (-14.9%) Starts stock offering under shelf registration

(-) TEX (-14.4%) Reportedly sought offer of $31/share or more from Zoomlion

(-) PANW (-12.4%) Q3 earnings meets views but guides mixed Q4; Deutsche Bank downgrades to hold vs buy

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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