The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

March 31, 2014

US stocks rise as investors close out quarter

NEW YORK —  Stocks rose broadly in midday trading Monday as the market headed for its fifth straight quarterly gain. Microsoft led the technology sector higher.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 15 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,872 as of 12:15 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 123 points, or 0.7 percent, to 16,446. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 53 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,209.

BROAD GAINS: Twenty-eight of the 30 members stocks in the Dow average rose. Microsoft continued to rise after its Office for iPad software was released last week to highly positive reviews. Microsoft rose $1.04, or 3 percent, to $41.34. The stock is up 8 percent this month.

HEALTHCARE DEAL: Johnson & Johnson accepted an offer of about $4 billion from the private equity firm Carlyle Group to buy its Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics business. J&J said the deal for the blood-testing unit should close by mid-year. J&J rose 39 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $97.83.

QUARTER END: Trading is expected to be heavier and more volatile Monday as investors close out their first-quarter positions. At the end of each quarter, fund managers will often sell their worst-performing stocks and buy more of their best-performing stocks in an effort to make their portfolios look better when investors get their quarterly statements. The phenomenon has the Wall Street nickname of "window dressing." If the stock market closes higher Monday, it would be the fifth-straight quarterly rise for the S&P 500.

"There's a lot of re-allocation going on today," said J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist with TD Ameritrade.

YELLEN: In a speech, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Monday that she thinks the struggling U.S. job market will continue to need the help of low interest rates "for some time." Her remarks come after investors have grown anxious that the Fed might raise short-term rates starting in mid-2015. Yellen has previously suggested that the Fed could start raising short-term rates six months after it halts its bond purchases, which most economists expect by year's end.

MORE GM WOES: General Motors fell 40 cents, or 1 percent, to $34.33. Congressional investigators released a memo Sunday that showed GM was familiar with its ignition switch defects in 2005, but did nothing to address the problem. GM's CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to appear in front of Congress Tuesday to address the automaker's recalls.

OTHER MARKETS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.74 percent from 2.72 percent late Friday. The price of crude oil slipped 42 cents to $101.25. Gold dropped $4.80 to $1,289.50 an ounce.

 

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