It was an uplifting end to a rock-solid week on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average marching even further into positive territory for the year.
The S&P 500 was up 0.43%, the Dow added 0.67%, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.43%.
Benchmark indexes clinched their fifth straight week of gains, a winning streak not seen since October last year.
Investors can thank the Federal Reserve, which inspired the bulls after a comfortingly dovish statement and press conference mid-week. The central bank opted to leave interest rates unchanged and signaled only two rate hikes are likely this year compared with a previous forecast of as many as four.
"Against the backdrop of the Fed's increased level of concern over international events -- uncertainty that is likely to persist for some time -- the market anticipates policymakers to remain sidelined for much if not all of the year, reinstating the 2015 theme of 'lower for longer,'" said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel.
JPMorgan Chase(JPM) - Get Report boosted the Dow Jones index on Friday, adding 2.9% after boosting its stock buyback program by $1.88 billion. The bank approved a $6.4 billion repurchase program last year, which allows it to buy back nearly 1% of its shares at current value.
Market gains were undeterred by an unexpected decline in crude oil prices Friday afternoon. Crude oil fell below $40 again after a weekly count of domestic oil rigs showed an increase for the first time this year. The number of active oil rigs rose by 1 to 387, according to Baker Hughes data. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 1.9% to $39.42 a barrel on Friday.
Oil had been higher earlier in the session on hopes of a production freeze among the biggest national producers. The commodity has been on a tear on hopes members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries can agree on a production freeze when they meet in April. Oil closed above above $40 for the first time this year on Thursday.
It was a busy day for deals news on Friday. Starwood Hotels (HOT) climbed 5.5% after reaching an agreement to sell itself to Chinese company Anbang for $78 a share. Marriott(MAR) - Get Report , which had previously made a play for Starwood, has five days to respond to Anbang's offer. Marriott and Starwood had agreed to a $12.2 billion deal late last year.
TransCanada(TRP) - Get Report fell 1.1% after agreeing to buy Columbia Pipeline Group (CPGX) for nearly $10 billion. The move boosts TransCanada's presence in the U.S., increasing its total coverage to about 57,000 miles of pipeline in North America. The deal is expected to close during the second half of the year.
In earnings news, Adobe(ADBE) - Get Report jumped 3.9% after quarterly earnings surpassed estimates on the back of strong growth in cloud computing services. The tech company earned an adjusted 66 cents a share in its recent quarter, a nickel above estimates, while revenue of $1.38 billion breezed past forecasts. The company also boosted full-year earnings guidance to $2.80 a share, up 10 cents from a previous target.
Aeropostale (ARO) plummeted 46% after broaching the possibility of a sale. The teen retailer reported another quarterly loss, while sales slumped 16% over its holiday season. Aeropostale has suffered three straight years of losses.
Tiffany(TIF) - Get Report added more than 3% after beating earnings estimates, though it warned of a likely first-quarter disappointment. The jewelry retailer anticipates a 15% to 20% decline in earnings in the three months through April, far sharper than an estimated 6% drop. The company said worldwide same-store sales have fallen 9% in its first quarter, driven by weakness in Europe.