Stocks Rise to Wrap Up a Strong Week as Banks Move Higher

NEW YORK (AP) -
1 Stocks

Stocks rose Friday to wrap up their strongest week in almost three months. Banks gained ground after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank intends to keep raising interest rates provided the economy continues to improve.

Stocks turned higher over the last few hours of trading to finish at their highest levels of the day. Banks made the largest gains, as they stand to make bigger profits on lending if interest rates rise further. Phone companies traded higher after Verizon agreed in principle to a new contract with striking employees. Alphabet led technology stocks higher.

On Friday the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew a bit more in the first quarter than it previously estimated.

The& Dow& Jones industrial average rose 44.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,783.22. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 8.96 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,099.06. The Nasdaq composite index picked up 31.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,933.50.

The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy was a bit stronger in the first quarter than it initially believed. The agency said the gross domestic product grew 0.8 percent in the first three months of the year, above its original estimate of 0.5 percent. That’s still sluggish, but experts think the economy will grow about 2 percent in the current quarter.

Bank stocks were led higher by Bank of America, which rose 18 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $14.88, and Citigroup, which picked up 47 cents, or 1 percent, to $46.58. Bank stocks have struggled this year because the Fed has pushed back plans to raise rates. Bond prices dipped and yields rose, another sign investors expect interest rates to increase. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.85 percent from 1.83 percent. The yield on the Treasury note is closely tied to interest rates.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Verizon and its unions agreed in principle to a new four-year contract. About 39,000 landline and cable employees in the Eastern U.S. went on strike in April. They had been working without a contract since August. Verizon gained 46 cents to $50.62.

Google’s parent company Alphabet rose after a federal jury said the company did not need permission to use tools made by Oracle when it built its Android software. Oracle said Google stole its intellectual property and sought $9 billion in damages, and it plans to appeal the ruling. Alphabet stock added $10.67, or 1.4 percent, to $747.60.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 15 cents to $49.33 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gave up 27 cents to $49.32 a barrel in London.

The price of gold fell $6.60 to $1,213.80. Gold has slipped about 5 percent over the last two weeks. Silver fell 7 cents to $16.27 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.11 a pound.

Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.63 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.49 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Germany’s DAX and the FTSE 100 in Britain both rose 0.1 percent, and France’s CAC 40 gained a bit less than that. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.9 percent.

The dollar rose to 110.38 yen from 109.72 yen. The euro dipped to $1.1114 from $1.1191.