S&P 500, Dow Erase Early-Year Losses

S&P 500, Dow Erase Early-Year Losses

U.S. stocks rose, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index turning positive for 2016 in the wake of a dovish Federal Reserve that helped the gauge post its longest weekly winning streak since November.

The equity benchmark joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average to advance for the year, staging one of the biggest turnarounds in history. The Dow surged 12 percent in 24 days through Thursday, boosted by seven separate daily advances exceeding 1 percent.

It’s a stunning comeback from what was the worst-ever start to a year, with stocks pushed over the top as the Fed this week signaled a slower pace of interest-rate increases.

The S&P 500 added 0.4 percent to 2,049.58 at 4 p.m. in New York, and is now up 0.3 percent this year after falling as much as 11 percent. The Dow climbed 120.81 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,602.30, extending its 2016 increase to 1 percent. The Nasdaq Composite index advanced 0.4 percent, trimming its decline since the end of 2015 to 4.2 percent from almost 15 percent.

“It’s been a good week and a great month for equities as stocks have benefited from the winds of change,” said Terry Sandven, who helps oversee $126 billion as chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis. “Many of the items that have plagued sentiment and overall equity returns, really since the beginning of the year, seem to be of less of an immediate concern.”

Trading volume in U.S. equities was boosted Friday by a quarterly event known as quadruple witching, when futures and options contracts on indexes and individual stocks expire. About 11 billion shares traded hands on U.S. exchanges, 25 percent above the 2016 average.

Stocks capped a fifth weekly advance, with the S&P 500 rebounding 12 percent from a Feb. 11 low amid rising crude prices and optimism that monetary policy will continue to support global growth. Friday’s gains were braced by health care companies, with the group ending the longest losing streak in two months.

Banks halted a three-day slide after also lagging a broader rally in the past two weeks.

The Dow average Thursday wiped out a year-to-date decline that swelled to as much as 10 percent in February. It’s the fastest that a retreat of that size or more has ever been reversed this early in a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The S&P 500 climbed 1.4 percent this week, and is 3.8 percent away from a record set last May.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility index fell 2.9 percent Friday to 14.02, a seven-month low. The measure of market turbulence known as the VIX extended a streak of weekly declines to five, the longest in four years.

Energy and raw-materials have led the S&P 500 over the last five weeks with gains of more than 16 percent. Energy companies posted the longest streak of weekly advances in 10 months, while raw-materials producers capped the best such stretch since November 2014. A tumble in the dollar Thursday brought on by a more dovish Fed helped push the two groups to three-month highs yesterday.

The Fed’s tempered outlook for rate increases knocked down traders’ expectations as reflected in futures prices, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Odds for a June boost to borrowing costs are almost 39 percent, compared with about 54 percent before the Fed’s statement Wednesday.

Probabilities for rate increases had risen in the past month amid better U.S. data, higher crude prices and a rebound in equities. A report today showed consumer confidence eased in the first half of March as lower-income Americans grew more concerned about prospects for the economy and higher gasoline prices.

“A lot of investors who missed out on the rally are feeling the pressure to go back into the market, especially with the index turning positive for the year,” said Benno Galliker, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland. “The recovery was pretty stunning and it happened pretty quick. This rally could go on till the end of April.”

Among shares moving on corporate news, Adobe Systems climbed 3.9 percent to a 2016 high after reporting a profit that topped analysts’ estimates as more customers signed up for its cloud-based services.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide added 5.5 percent, closing at the highest since July, as the owner of brands such as Westin, Sheraton and W, said it plans to accept a $13.2 billion takeover bid by China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. and gave suitor Marriott International a deadline to make a counteroffer.

Seven of the S&P 500’s 10 main industries rose Friday, with health care shares gaining 1.3 percent, while financial and industrial stocks added more than 0.8 percent. Phone companies lost almost 1 percent.

AbbVie and Celgene Corp. gained more than 2.1 percent, leading a rebound among drugmakers as health care shares rose for the first time in five days. UnitedHealth Group Inc. added 1.8 percent to an all-time high. The Nasdaq Biotechnology index advanced 1.8 percent after falling in seven of the previous eight sessions as struggles at Valeant Pharmaceuticals International weighed on drug developers.

Banks led a climb in financial stocks, as the KBW Bank index rose 1.8 percent to close at a two-month high. Bank of America Corp. climbed 2.9 percent after its board approved the repurchase of as much as $800 million in shares, a day after JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it can expand its buyback program. JPMorgan also added 2.9 percent.

Author: Anna-Louise Jackson Bloomberg

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