Stocks inched higher by mid-afternoon Friday as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen suggested the central bank could implement another rate hike this summer.
The S&P 500 rose 0.3%, and the Nasdaq increased 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.09%.
"It's appropriate for the Fed to gradually and cautiously increase our overnight interest rate over time," Yellen said during a Q&A Friday with Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw. Yellen suggested that a move in the coming months would likely be appropriate.
Yellen's comments coalesce with the past two weeks of Fed rate-hike chatter that has pushed the likelihood of a June rate hike much higher.
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 away 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. FEIC in an all-cash deal worth $4.2 billion. Thermo agreed to pay $107.50 a share for FEIC, representing a 14% premium to Thursday's close. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2017. FEI shares jumped 14%.
A U.S. jury ruled in Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) favor on Thursday evening after finding that Google's use of Java programming in Android was in fair use. Oracle (ORCL - Get Report) had brought the lawsuit against Google, arguing the use of the software infringed upon their patents. The court battle has been ongoing since 2010 and Oracle expects to appeal the decision.
GameStop (GME - Get Report) sank 6% 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 to an 8.6% increase a year earlier.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW - Get Report) slumped 11% after forecasting slower growth in its fourth quarter. The online security company said it expects fourth-quarter earnings between 48 cents and 50 cents a share, slightly weaker than analysts had expected. The company has "anticipated for some time that seasonality would evolve in the business," chief financial officer Steffan Tomlinson said in a statement.
LendingClub (LC - Get Report) soared 13% on reports it has entered discussions with Citigroup (C - Get Report) about buying or financing future loans. The discussions are part of the peer-to-peer lender's efforts to calm existing investors after CEO Renaud Laplanche was forced to resign earlier this month. The company is under investigation over a number of its loans it sold earlier in the year.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) jumped after rejecting a takeover bid from Japan-based pharmaceutical company Takeda Pharmaceutical (TKPYY) and private-equity firm TPG, according to Wall Street Journal reports. The offer was made around two months ago.