The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all finished lower on Friday, the final day of this year's first quarter.
But stocks ended the three-month period with big gains, benefiting from the "Trump rally" that pushed markets to record highs at the beginning of March.
The Nasdaq logged the best three-month increase, climbing just under 10% over the quarter, while the S&P 500 rose nearly 6%. The Dow increased almost 5%, its sixth quarterly gain in a row and its longest stretch since the end of 2006.
On Friday, though, the Dow finished with a daily loss of 0.31% and a March drop of 0.7%. The blue-chip index has had a weaker month as financials came back to earth after an extended rally following Donald Trump's surprise election win in November.
The S&P 500 ended Friday down 0.23% and close to flat for March. The Nasdaq slipped by just 0.04% on Friday, but jumped 1.5% for the month.
Friday's mixed session mirrors the trends of the past week where the Dow hovered mostly lower, while the Nasdaq moved higher. Stocks' momentum has faded in recent weeks as doubts grow over how Trump and the Republicans can deliver on his ambitious campaign promises, including tax reform and infrastructure spending. Those doubts peaked heading into a health care reform vote last week before that bill was pulled from consideration on March 17.
Personal incomes in the U.S. rose 0.4% in February, in line with estimates but slightly slower than growth of 0.5% in January. Consumer spending increased 0.1%, half the expected increase. The U.S. savings rate increased to 5.6% from 5.4%.
Manufacturing activity in Chicago unexpectedly improved in March, according to the latest Chicago PMI. The measure rose to 57.7 in March from 57.4 in February, beating economists' estimates of a decline to 56.9. Production was at its highest since January 2016. Chicago PMI in the first quarter was its best since the fourth quarter of 2014.
Consumer sentiment in the U.S. edged up in the final reading for March, though not at the pace economists anticipated. Sentiment increased to a reading of 96.9 from an earlier estimate of 96.3, according to the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index. Economists expected the measure to tick up to 97.2.
Crude oil turned higher on Friday afternoon after settling at its highest level in more than three weeks a day earlier. A weekly reading on drilling activity in the U.S. showed the number of active rigs rise for another week. The number of active oil rigs in the U.S. increased by 10 to 662 over the past week, according to Baker Hughes.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 0.5% to $50.60 a barrel on Friday.
BlackBerry (BBRY) narrowed its loss from a year earlier and posted above-consensus adjusted profit. A per-share loss of 10 cents in the fourth quarter was more than a quarter wider than the loss a year earlier. Adjusted earnings of 4 cents a share came in higher than estimates of a break-even result. BlackBerry anticipates adjusted earnings over fiscal 2018.
TRC Cos. (TRR) jumped after agreeing to be acquired by New Mountain Partners in a deal that values the company at a 47% premium to its close on Thursday. New Mountain will pay $17.55 a share in an all-cash deal. TRC CEO Chris Vincze said that the transaction would "deliver immediate value to our shareholders while enabling TRC to continue to pursue its long-term growth strategy."
Alcoa (AA - Get Report) was upgraded to outperform from market perform at BMO Capital, while its price target was upgraded to $45 from $35. The stock price is not factoring in higher commodity prices, BMO said.
Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) was initiated with a buy rating and $1,100 price target at Loop Capital. Analysts said the company has a runway for continued solid growth and can ultimately spin off its web services business. Amazon closed at records for its third day in a row.
DuPont (DD - Get Report) said Friday that it agreed to swap some assets with FMC Corp. (FMC - Get Report) in a deal worth around $1.6 billion. DuPont will sell its crop protection business to FMC for ownership of FMC Health and Nutrition and an additional $1.2 billion in cash. The deal is part of DuPont's efforts to comply with the European Union's requirements for its $130 billion merger with Dow Chemical (DOW) . That deal is now expected to close in August, pushed back from a previous target of the first half of this year.
Editor's Pick: This story was originally published on March 31 at 4:10 p.m.
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