New York Report: First quarter gains for S&P and Nasdaq

US STOCKS rose yesterday, with the S&P 500 ending both March and the first quarter of 2014 with moderate gains, after Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen relieved concerns about a rate hike coming earlier than expected.

This was the fifth straight quarterly rise for both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, though it was the smallest three-month advance for both since the fourth quarter of 2012. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 rose for a second straight month in March.

Gains were broad, with nine of the S&P 500’s 10 sector indexes rising for the day. About 73 per cent of stocks traded on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq closed higher.

The S&P materials sector index was the best performer, jumping 2.1 per cent, while the S&P utility sector index advanced 1.3 per cent.

In her first public speech since becoming Fed chair two months ago, Yellen said that its “extraordinary” commitment to boosting the economy would be needed for some time to come.

The Dow Jones industrial average shot up 134.60 points, or 0.82 per cent, to end at 16,457.66.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 14.72 points, or 0.79 per cent, to close at 1,872.34. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 43.24 points, or 1.04 per cent, to finish at 4,198.99.

The S&P 500 rose 0.7 percent in March and gained 1.3 per cent in the first quarter. The Dow rose 0.8 per cent for the month, but fell 0.7 per cent in the quarter. The Nasdaq fell 2.5 per cent for March, but rose 0.5 per cent in the quarter.