U.S. shares rally; dollar rises in May Day trading

By Reuters

May 02, 2015 02:12 AM EDT

U.S. shares rebounded sharply on Friday on gains in healthcare and technology stocks, while the dollar rose from nine-week lows on signs that the U.S. economy may be stabilizing.

The Nasdaq snapped a four-day losing streak, while the S&P tech sector gained 1.5 percent and the S&P healthcare sector gained 1.3 percent. Apple shares rose 3 percent and were the biggest boost to the major U.S. indexes.

All major European markets except London, its biggest, were closed on Friday for the May Day holiday, while many Asian markets were also shut. London's FTSE 100 index inched higher on a surge in the shares of Lloyds bank and mining companies.

The gains in U.S. shares came after weak earnings reports had contributed to losses in the benchmark S&P 500 over the previous two sessions. The rise also came despite data showing that construction spending fell in March to a six-month low and manufacturing growth held at its slowest in almost two years in April.

A jump in consumer sentiment in April, however, and stronger-than-expected vehicle sales for the month suggested the economy was finding some footing and supported the dollar.

"When you have stocks that have declined so significantly, and with investors with cash on the sidelines, I think people are looking at opportunities to enter," said Katrina Dudley, portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton Investments in Short Hills, New Jersey.

The MSCI world equity index was last up 1.88 points or 0.43 percent, at 438.18.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 183.54 points, or 1.03 percent, to 18,024.06, the S&P 500 gained 22.78 points, or 1.09 percent, to 2,108.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 63.97 points, or 1.29 percent, to 5,005.39.

The FTSE 100 index of top British shares closed up 0.36 percent at 6,985.95 points.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, rose after posting its worst month in four years in April. The index was last up 0.62 percent at 95.189 after hitting a nine-week low of 94.399 on Thursday.

The euro was last down 0.16 percent against the dollar at $1.12045 after hitting a more than nine-week high against the dollar of $1.12900 earlier on Friday.

"We maintain that the (recent) sell-off in the greenback is likely to run out of steam," said Jane Foley, senior FX strategist, at Rabobank in London.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields, which move inversely to prices, hit a seven-week high of 2.124 percent. Treasuries posted their worst week in two months as traders readjusted to higher yields globally.

Oil prices eased off 2015 highs after Iraq said its crude exports hit a record in April, keeping Middle East production well above demand.

Brent crude settled down 32 cents at $66.46 a barrel. U.S. crude settled down 48 cents at $59.15 a barrel.

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