Wall Street closed out Friday's session with modest gains, settling into the long Memorial Day weekend with a late-breaking assessment of monetary policy from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
"It's appropriate for the Fed to gradually and cautiously increase our overnight interest rate over time," Yellen said during a presentation Friday with Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw. Yellen suggested that a move in the coming months would likely be appropriate, rounding out two weeks of Fed rate-hike comments that have increased speculation the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's monetary policy panel, will act in June.
"We think she was referring to the collection of views held by FOMC participants rather than any specific view," BNP Paribas analysts wrote in a note. "At April's meeting, not all participants thought June was the most likely date for the next hike. It was just the earliest possible date."
Stocks managed to hold onto gains through the end of the session as investors digested the rising likelihood of a rate hike sooner rather than later. The S&P 500 rose 0.43%, and the Nasdaq increased 0.65%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.25%.
The U.S. economy grew at a pace of 0.8% in the first quarter, above a previous estimate showing 0.5% growth. However, the revision was slightly lower than an expected 0.9%. A stronger U.S. dollar, weaker global growth and chaotic financial markets weighed on the U.S. economy, though not as badly as initially feared. Personal consumption was unchanged at 1.9%, its lowest in three quarters.
"No doubt an upward revision of any size helps alleviate the pain of a weaker-than-expected first-round Q1 growth report, but a minimal increase does little to reinforce optimism of better times ahead," said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel. "Nevertheless, the hawks at the FOMC ... will no doubt highlight any additional upward revision as support to their thesis of fundamental strength in the U.S. economy."
Crude oil prices moved further from the $50-mark on Friday after briefly topping the level for the first time since in seven months a day earlier. Crude got a pick-up earlier in the week on more signs reduced U.S. production was eating into domestic inventories. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 0.3% to $49.33 a barrel.
Verizon (VZ) - Get Report rose nearly 1% after reaching a "tentative agreement" with two unions, which will end a six-week strike. The strike, the largest in five years, involved around 37,000 workers.
Thermo Fisher (TMO) - Get Report agreed to buy FEI Co. in an all-cash deal worth $4.2 billion. Thermo agreed to pay $107.50 a share, representing a 14% premium to Thursday's close. The acquisition is expected to be completed in early 2017. FEI shares jumped 14%.
GameStop (GME) - Get Report sank 3.9% after posting disappointing same-store sales in its first quarter. The video-game retailer reported a 4.4% decline in sales to $1.97 billion, while sales in stores open at least a year fell 6.2%, compared with an 8.6% increase a year earlier.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) - Get Report slumped 12% after forecasting slower growth in its fourth quarter. The online security company said it expects earnings of 48 cents to 50 cents a share, slightly weaker than analysts had expected. The company has "anticipated for some time that seasonality would evolve in the business," CFO Steffan Tomlinson said in a statement.