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Overnight Markets: Wall Street closes flat to end five-week rally

Strengthening dollar weighed on commodity-related shares, with Mosaic Co. and CF Industries Holdings sinking at least 2.7%.

 
Overnight Markets: Wall Street closes flat to end five-week rally

Wall Street snapped a five-week winning streak on Thursday, with the three major indexes closing mostly flat, as a strengthening dollar weighed on commodity-related shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13 points, or 0.08%, to 17,516, the S&P 500 lost one point, or 0.04%, to 2,036 and the Nasdaq Composite added five points, or 0.1%, to 4,774.

Shares started declining earlier this week after comments by US Federal Reserve officials, who raised expectations for more interest rate hikes in coming months than investors expected.

The possibility of more interest rate hikes pushed the dollar to a fifth day of gains, its best run since April. Oil and materials sectors dropped as a result. The deadly bombing attacks in Brussels on Tuesday added to investors' uncertainty this week.

Economic reports on Thursday showed orders for durable goods fell in February for the third time in four months, underscoring lingering softness in US capital investment.

In the financial sector, Prudential Financial Inc lost 2.8%, while Morgan Stanley declined 1.4%. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. retreated 0.7%, after losing as much as 2.6%.

Raw-material producers were little changed after losing as much as 1.1%. Zinc led industrial-metal declines amid the rising dollar. Fertiliser makers Mosaic Co. and CF Industries Holdings Inc. sank at least 2.7%.

Energy companies rose after crude staged a comeback. Devon Energy Corp. climbed 2.8% and Tesoro Corp. added 2.1%. Chevron Corp. gained 1.4% to wipe out a 1.4% decline.

Yahoo (YHOO.O) shares added 0.2% after activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP moved on Thursday to overthrow the entire board of the technology company.

Staples (SPLS.O) shares were up 7% after a media report said a US judge rebuked the Federal Trade Commission's legal tactics in the Staples and Office Depot merger case.

Asia markets were mostly higher on Friday in morning session as persistent concerns over a potential for a Fed rate hike in April provided some support for Japan shares.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was up 0.25%, getting support from a weaker yen. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi reversed early losses to trade flat.

Chinese markets were up, with the Shanghai composite higher by 0.44%. Markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Indonesia, New Zealand and the Philippines are closed today.

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