Stocks Ended Well Off Lows, Dow and S&P Eked Out Monthly Gains

U.S. stocks closed well off session lows on Friday, with the Dow and S&P posting gains for April, as disappointing economic data and corporate earnings raised doubts about the strength of the U.S. economy. The Dow Industrials were off 57.12 points, or 0.32%, to 17,773.64. The S&P 500 slid 10.51 points, or 0.51%, to 2,065.30. The Nasdaq Composite was down 29.93 points, or 0.62%, to 4,775.36. The Dow logged a monthly gain of 0.5%, the S&P recorded an April gain of 0.3%, while the Nasdaq saw a 2% drop.

U.S. inflation barely rose in March as consumer spending remained tepid, making it less likely that the Federal Reserve will be able to follow through on its projected two interest rate increases this year.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.TO) on Friday issued a 2015 financial report that met an important deadline for creditors, revealing new details on a range of financial and legal issues, and it also announced changes to its board. In the report, Valeant restated its 2015 financial loss and 2014 earnings as it had forecast.

Oil futures ended April with a monthly gain of nearly 20%. West Texas Intermediate crude settled at $45.92 a barrel on Friday, up 19.8% from the front-month contract finish of $38.34 on March 31. Brent crude ended at $48.13, up over 21% from the front-month contract settlement at the end of last month.

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