Stocks End Higher on Vaccine Rollout Progress; Oil Prices Rise

Stocks finish higher Friday as investors cheer progress on vaccine distribution.
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Stocks finished higher Friday as investors cheered progress on vaccine distribution and optimism about the prospects that the economy would recover strongly from the coronavirus pandemic grew.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 453 points, or 1.39%, to close at 33,072. The S&P 500 gained 1.66% and the Nasdaq finished up 1.24%.

The Dow and S&P 500 posted record closing highs.

Traders were upbeat after President Joe Biden doubled his vaccination goal to 200 million shots in his first 100 days in office.

"I know it's ambitious, twice our original goal, but no other country in the world has even come close, not even close, to what we are doing," Biden said at his first news conference since becoming president in January.

A consumer sentiment reading for March from the University of Michigan rose to the highest level in a year following the "third disbursement of relief checks and better than anticipated vaccination progress,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist of the survey.

Bank stocks were mostly higher Friday after the Federal Reserve signaled it planned to lift pandemic-era restrictions on bank dividends and share buybacks for most companies after June 30.

With the economy slowly recovering, the central bank said it would lift the restrictions on banks with capital levels above those required by stress tests currently underway. 

JPMorgan Chase  (JPM) - Get Report and Wells Fargo  (WFC) - Get Report finished higher by 1.7% and 1.2%, respectively.

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Ten-year U.S. Treasury yields rose to 1.66% after an auction of seven-year notes was weaker than expected.

Oil prices in the U.S. traded above $61 a barrel as reports said it could take until at least next Wednesday to remove a massive tanker blocking the Suez Canal.

Caterpillar  (CAT) - Get Report is facing shipment delays due to the Suez Canal blockage and has been considering airlifting products if necessary, Bloomberg reported. Caterpillar finished 2.3% higher.

GameStop  (GME) - Get Report ended 2% lower Friday after the videogame retailer, a favorite of the Reddit crowd, jumped nearly 53% in the previous session and recouped its $4.3 billion loss in value after earnings disappointed.

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U.S. household spending, meanwhile, declined in February for the biggest drop in 10 months. Personal incomes fell 7.1% after jumping 10.1% in January, according to a government report.