Stocks remained on track for their fifth straight week of gains even as crude reversed direction following an increase in the number of active oil rigs in the U.S.
The S&P 500 was up 0.3%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.6%, and the Nasdaq climbed 0.3%.
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 major oil-producing countries. 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.
The U.S. consumer feels less sure of the economy, according to the latest read from the University of Michigan. A read on consumer sentiment fell to 90 in March, down from 91.7 in February. Consumer confidence declined on expectations gas prices would rise this year and general economic conditions would deteriorate.
JPMorgan (JPM - Get Report) boosted the Dow, adding more than 2% after boosting its stock buyback program by $1.88 billion. The bank approved a $6.4 billion repurchase program last year, which allows the bank to buy back nearly 1% of its shares at current value.
Financials stocks were among the best performers on markets Friday. Banks Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) , Citigroup (C - Get Report) , and Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) were higher, while the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF - Get Report) added 0.2%.
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Starwood Hotels (HOT) climbed 2% after reaching a deal to be acquired by 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 5% 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 around 57,000 miles of pipeline in North America. The deal is expected to close during the second half of the year.
Adobe (ADBE - Get Report) jumped 6.4% 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 more than 40% 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 2% after beating quarterly estimates, though warned of a likely first-quarter disappointment. The jewelry retailer anticipates a 15% to 20% decline in earnings in its first quarter, far sharper than an estimated 6% drop. The company said worldwide same-store sales fell 9% in its first quarter, driven by weakness in Europe.
Casino stocks jumped after Macquarie Research upgraded the sector to neutral on the basis that revenue declines in key gambling destination Macau are beginning to slow. Analysts predict Macau casino revenue will decline 6% this year, more than half the decline initially forecast. Melco Crown (MPEL) , Wynn Resorts (WYNN - Get Report) , MGM Resorts (MGM - Get Report) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS - Get Report) climbed.