Stocks recorded solid gains and reversed the previous week’s losses. Markets remained volatile, however, as investors appeared to remain focused on the turbulent political environment rather than the upcoming release of first-quarter corporate earnings reports.
U.S. large-cap stocks gained about 2% on the week as trade fears eased slightly, continuing a streak where the S&P 500 has moved by more than 1%, up or down, for its sixth straight week. For the week, the Dow booked a gain of 1.8%, while the S&P rose 2% and the Nasdaq produced a weekly gain of 2.8%.
On Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5%, to end at 24,360.14.
The S&P 500 index declined 0.3%, to finish at 2,656.30. While tech shares performed well, energy stocks led the gains, helped by a rally in crude prices to their highest level since late 2014. Real estate and utilities shares lagged as longer-term bond yields increased, making their relatively high dividends less appealing in comparison. Financials were the worst-performing sector, off 1.6%.
The Nasdaq Composite Index closed off 0.5%, at 7,106.65.
Due in part to recent tax cuts, expectations for first-quarter profit growth are elevated, with analysts anticipating that earnings for the S&P 500 as a whole will rise more than 17% on a year-over-year basis. If realized, this would be the strongest earnings performance since 2011.
Gold prices settled higher Friday, as U.S. tensions with Russia and China lifted the metal’s investment appeal, pulling it higher for a second week in a row. June gold rose 0.5%, to settle at $1,347.90 an ounce–up 0.8% for the week.
Crude-oil prices rose for a fifth straight session Friday, driven by fears of a U.S.-led military conflict in Syria. A report from the International Energy Agency on Friday also indicated that OPEC soon will have succeeded in reaching its target for reducing the global supply glut. May WTI crude gained 0.5%, to settle at $67.39 a barrel. For the week, the U.S. oil benchmark rallied by roughly 8.6%, which was the strongest weekly percentage performance since late July of last year.
The price of bitcoin moved higher again on Friday, jumping nearly $400 in an hour, as the cryptocurrency looked set to close out the week with a gain of over 20%. Futures markets finished the week in the green. The Cboe’s April contract closed up 5.3% at $8,090 and the CME Group Inc. April contract finished the week at $8,105, up 5.5%.
A fresh drive for bitcoin has also lifted other cryptocurrencies. Ether rose 4.4% to $513.87.