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GE surge lifts US stocks


[NEW YORK] US stocks Friday posted solid gains as a big General Electric asset sale added to the Wall Street deal wave on a strong day for global equity markets.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 98.92 points (0.55 per cent) to 18,057.65.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 10.88 (0.52 per cent) to 2,102.06 while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 21.41 (0.43 percent) to 4,995.98.

GE led the Dow, bolting 10.8 per cent higher after announcing it would sell US$26.5 billion in real estate assets as part of a plan to pare off most of its GE Capital unit over the next 24 months.

The GE announcement came on the heels of major merger announcements earlier in the week from Royal Dutch Shell and FedEx.

Equity markets in Britain, France and Germany hit all-time or multi-year highs Friday, while Japan's Nikkei 225 rose above 20,000 for the first time in 15 years before ending the day lower.

Apple rose 0.4 per cent as the technology giant began taking orders for the Apple Watch. First deliveries will begin in nine countries on April 24.

Apparel retailer Gap fell 3.7 per cent after comparable sales in March rose 2 per cent, with a 14 per cent jump in its Old Navy chain offsetting a 3 per cent drop in Banana Republic and a seven per cent decline in its namesake stores.

Netflix rose 3.4 per cent following an upgrade from Citigroup.

Fidelity National Information Services, which sells banking and payment technology and services, fell 3.8 per cent as it slashed its full-year revenue growth forecast from 5-7 per cent to 1-3 per cent due to unexpected foreign exchange movements and higher costs for some projects in Europe.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury declined to 1.95 per cent from 1.96 per cent Thursday, while the 30-year dipped to 2.58 per cent from 2.60 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.