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US: Stocks close week higher as rate hike fears abate


[NEW YORK] Technology and petroleum-linked shares were among the standouts Friday as US stocks rose solidly to finish a choppy week on a positive note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.4 per cent to close the week at 25,309.99.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 1.6 per cent to 2,747.30, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.8 per cent to 7,337.39.

Worries about US interest rates have hovered over the market since the strong February 2 jobs report raised the prospect that the Federal Reserve could accelerate its pace of rate increases.

But the yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond, seen as a proxy for interest rates, pulled back Friday. That helped produce what was by the far the market's best trading day of the week.

And in its semi-annual report to Congress, the Fed appeared to tamp down concerns that higher wages would boost inflation.

"Investors are in a good mood ... and the Fed's report seemed to indicate that we may not need as many rate hikes as they once thought," Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman said in a note.

Large technology shares were strong, with Apple winning 1.7 per cent, Microsoft rising 2.5 per cent, Facebook 2.4 per cent and Intel 4.2 per cent.

Petroleum-linked shares were another strong performer as Dow members ExxonMobil and Chevron gained more than two per cent.

Natural pet food company Blue Buffalo Pet Products soared 17.2 per cent after agreeing to be acquired by General Mills for US$8 billion. General Mills dropped 3.6 per cent.

Nordstrom surged 6.5 per cent following a report that it is close to a transaction to take the company private.