Wall Street rose on Thursday after a batch of economic data in the US pointed to an improving economy, overshadowing concern that interest rates may rise in the middle of next year.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 109 points or 0.67%, to end at 16,331. The S&P 500 gained 11 points or 0.60%, to finish at 1,872. The Nasdaq Composite added 12 points or 0.27%, to close at 4,319.
Labour market data yesterday showed the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits hovered near three-month lows last week. Another report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed that factory activity in the Mid-Atlantic region rebounded in March, suggesting economic momentum may be on the upswing.
Investors also reassessed Fed Chair Janet Yellen's comments that had fuelled speculation of an earlier-than-expected rate increase by the central bank. Analysts widely expected an increase in the second half of 2015.
Geopolitical concerns continued to be monitored as Russian troops seized two Ukrainian naval bases, including a headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.
Financial shares gained the most. After the close, the Federal Reserve said 29 out of 30 major banks met the minimum hurdle in its annual health check.
JP Morgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) added 3.1% to $60.11, rising above $60 for the first time since April 2000. Citigroup Inc (C.N) advanced 2.6%.
Elsewhere, Lennar Corp (LEN.N) reported a sharp jump in its first-quarter profit, helped by higher prices. Housing data also showed US existing home sales at a 19-month low in February. Lennar's shares lost 2.5% and KB Home fell 2.7%.
Jabil Circuit Inc (JBL.N) forecast 2015 core earnings above Wall Street's estimates as the struggling contract electronics maker expects to recover from the loss of its business with BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO)(BBRY.O). Jabil Circuit's stock slid 2.8%.
The Nasdaq's gains were limited by weakness in large-cap internet shares. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) fell 1.1%, while Facebook Inc (FB.O) dropped 1.9%.
In Asia, shares gained on Friday in morning trade, with a regional index of shares outside Japan rebounding from the biggest loss yesterday since August.
The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index advanced 0.3% to 450 as of 9:52 a.m. in Hong Kong, paring this week’s slide to 0.8%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.3%, South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 0.6% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index increased 0.4%, while Taiwan’s Taiex index gained 0.2%. China’s Shanghai Composite Index and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index both slid 0.1%. Japanese markets are closed for a holiday.