Stocks Post Best First Quarter Since 1998
NEW YORK (TheStreet) --The major U.S. equity indices wrapped up their best first quarter since 1998 with a mixed finish on Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both gained ground, helped by a positive read on consumer sentiment and the eurozone's move to bolster its rescue fund. The Nasdaq Composite, however, slipped as Apple(AAPL) dropped lost 1.7% and dropped back below $600 for the first time in a week after a labor advocacy group reported difficult worker conditions at Foxconn, a major supplier to the iPhone and iPad maker.
The S&P 500, which has increased 12% year-to-date, has only seen double-digit first-quarter gains 11 times since 1928. The index was up 5 points, or 0.4%, to close at 1408 on Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was higher by 66 points, or 0.5%, to finish at 13,212. The blue-chip index rose more than 994 points in the first quarter, its biggest point gain ever, according to Dow Jones Indexes. After booking a 5% gain in 2011, the index is up 8.1% so far this year.
The Nasdaq, which notched its seventh consecutive week of gains, was down 4 points, or 0.1%, to close at 3092. The tech-heavy index surged 18.7% in the first quarter.
European stocks rose Friday after eurozone finance ministers agreed to strengthen the bloc's debt crisis firewall to about €700 billion ($931 billion). The leaders agreed on the lowest figure accepted by nations, including Germany, Finland and the Netherlands, raising questions as to whether the plan will be enough to ward off the crisis.
Rising debt yields in Italy and Spain are of particular concern as the effects of the cheap loans from the European Central Bank that started at the end of last year have begun to wear off.