New York - US stocks climbed on Friday, with all 10 major S&P 500 sectors gaining in a broad rally after comments from a Chinese official indicated that the country's government was ready to take steps to support its slowing economy.
With the day's gain, the Dow turned positive for the week and the S&P sharply cut its weekly losses and returned to solidly positive territory for 2014.
The Nasdaq, however, remained on track for a negative week following an extended period of investors taking profits in some of the market's biggest outperformers.
China's Premier Li Keqiang said the government had the necessary accommodative policies in place and would push ahead with infrastructure investment.
“We cannot neglect the increasing downward pressure and difficulties,” he said in a speech on Wednesday, reported by the Xinhua news agency early on Friday.
The prospect of slowing growth in China, the world's second-largest economy, has long been a market headwind.
Recent data has pointed to the weakest growth there since the global financial crisis, raising hopes that Beijing would step in with support for the economy.
“This could avert a slowdown in China, and any stimulus that helps growth somewhere should help growth globally,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
Red Hat Inc reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations late Thursday, though the company gave a full-year profit view that was below forecasts.
Shares fell 5.7 percent to $52.95.
US shares of BlackBerry rose 1.7 percent to $9.20 after reporting an adjusted fourth-quarter loss that was much narrower than expected. It also reported revenue that was below forecasts as smartphone sales continued to slide in all regions.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 132.39 points, or 0.81 percent, at 16,396.62.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 14.94 points, or 0.81 percent, at 1,863.98.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 42.69 points, or 1.03 percent, at 4,193.93.
For the week, the Dow is up 0.6 percent, the S&P is down 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq is down 1.9 percent.
The week's losses were concentrated in the Nasdaq as investors took profit in some of the market's biggest outperformers, primarily in the Internet and biotech space.
Some analysts say the selloff in “momentum” stocks has yet to run its course, though this could benefit more value-orientated names.
A move to such companies helped limit the Dow's weekly decline.
One of the more prominent momentum names, Netflix Inc, continued its downward trend, slipping 0.5 percent to $362.50.
If the online movie renter closes lower on Friday, it will have dropped for 16 of the last 18 session, a period over which it has lost about a fifth of its value.
In the latest economic data, personal income and consumption both rose 0.3 percent in February, the latest indication that weak data earlier this year was due to bad weather rather than worsening fundamentals.
US consumer sentiment fell in March as consumers were less hopeful about the prospects for the overall economy, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final March reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment.
While the report was up by 0.1 from the preliminary read, it was also slightly under expectations.
“Sentiment was off a bit, but still reasonably high, which is encouraging,” Ablin said.
“It seems like we're getting past weather issues, which will allow us to look at fundamentals again.”
As the first quarter draws to a close, trading may be influenced by “window dressing,” when money managers adjust positions to improve the look of their portfolios. - Reuters