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Overnight Markets: Dow Jones turns positive for the Year

Commodity prices rose on the back of a weaker US dollar, fuelling gains in materials and industrials stocks.

Overnight Markets: Dow Jones turns positive for the Year

The Dow Jones industrial average closed in positive territory for 2016 on Thursday, as commodity prices rose on the back of a weaker US dollar, fuelling gains in materials and industrials stocks.

The Dow Jones closed up 156 points, or 0.9%, to 17,481, the S&P 500 gained 13 points, or 0.66%, to 2,041 and the Nasdaq Composite added 11 points, or 0.23%, to 4,775. The Dow and S&P were at their highest since 31 December and the Nasdaq hit its highest since 7 January.

A rise in oil prices and a positive view of the Fed's Wednesday announcements also helped stocks. US crude settled up 4.5% at $40.20 a barrel on optimism that major producers will strike an output freeze deal next month amid rising crude exports and gasoline demand in the US.

The latest economic news was on the bright side. Weekly jobless claims rose by 7,000 to 265,000, but the rate of layoffs taking place in the economy are still exceedingly low. A reading of manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia area unexpectedly turned positive in March, marking the first positive showing in seven months.

The top performing sectors in the S&P 500 were materials, industrials and energy. Healthcare was the only decliner, dragged down by Eli Lilly's 4.7% fall.

Industrials were propped up by General Electric's 2.6% rise. The stock gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500.

FedEx rose 11.8% after the package delivery company forecast better-than-expected full-year earnings.

Endo International dropped 12.5%, after the drugmaker forecast first-quarter results below estimates.

Mondelez International Inc. fell 2.2% after Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman revealed he sold off a large chunk of his stake in the snack-food maker.

Michaels Cos. Inc. shares surged 13% after the company reported better-than-expected earnings.

Shares of Viacom Inc. added 3% after news that the company has extended the employment agreement with chief operating officer Thomas Dooley through 31 December 2018.

In Asia, shares traded mostly higher on Friday in morning trade taking cues from Wall Street and after oil prices hit their highest levels for this year.

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