Stocks Closed Higher for Best Weekly Gains in Months

U.S. stocks closed slightly higher on Friday, turning in their largest weekly gains in months, as Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen signaled a rate hike may be justified over the summer. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 44.93 points, or 0.25%, to 17,873.22, gaining 2.1% for the best weekly performance since March 18. The S&P 500 advanced 8.96 points, or 0.43%, to 2,099.06, for a 2.2% weekly gain, the strongest since March 4. The Nasdaq Composite rose 31.74 points, or 0.65%, to 4,933.50, for a 3.3% weekly gain, the best week since Feb. 19.

The Federal Reserve should raise interest rates “in the coming months” if the economy picks up as expected and jobs continue to be generated, U.S. central bank chief Janet Yellen said on Friday, bolstering the case for a rate increase in June or July.

Oil futures settled lower on Friday, but marked a third-straight weekly gain as traders took a cautious stance ahead of a key meeting of major oil producers next week.J uly West Texas Intermediate crude fell by 15 cents, or 0.3%, to settle at $49.33 a barrel. July Brent crude declined 27 cents, or 0.5%, to $49.32 a barrel.

Verizon and striking unions have reached a four-year contract and employees will likely return to work next week, labor and union officials say.

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