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Stocks finish a rocky quarter with solid gains

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2018, file photo an American flag flies outside New York Stock Exchange. The
A U.S. flag flies outside the New York Stock Exchange in November.
(Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Wall Street ended a wobbly week with broad gains Friday, closing the books on June with its biggest monthly gain since January.

June marked a sharp about-face from May, when traders fled to safer holdings because of increased anxiety over the U.S.-China trade war and signs of slowing global economic growth.

Despite lingering worries over trade, investors pushed stocks higher much of this month after the Federal Reserve raised expectations that it is prepared to cut interest rates if needed to keep the economy growing. That drove the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index to an all-time high last week, though it has retreated slightly from that mark.

Even after the roller-coaster quarter, investors are in good shape so far this year. The S&P 500 is up 17.3% and the technology-heavy Nasdaq has gained 20.7%.

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“It hasn’t been maybe as healthy a rally as we saw in the first [quarter],” said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist at Nuveen. “When you look back 10 years from now, it’s not going to look like the sort of volatile period where we had this good April, terrible May and good June. It’s just going to look like a quarter where you know you made money in stocks, you made money in bonds.”

On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 16.84 points, or 0.6%, to 2,941.76. The index ended the month with a 6.9% gain.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 73.38 points, or 0.3%, to 26,599.96. The Nasdaq composite rose 38.49 points, or 0.5%, to 8,006.24.

Smaller-company stocks were big gainers for the second straight day. The Russell 2000 index climbed 20.02 points, or 1.3%, to 1,566.57.

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Every major index finished the week with a loss, but ended June with solid gains.

Bond prices were little changed Friday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held at 2%.

The market ended June with a two-day winning streak. A wave of selling swept over the market earlier in the week as traders shifted money to less risky holdings such as U.S. government bonds while remaining cautiously optimistic about this weekend’s meeting between President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping. Investors are hoping the talks put the world’s two biggest economies on track to resolve their trade war.

“Investors need to recognize that the trade situation is unlikely to improve,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco. “The best we can hope for is an agreement to continue talks.”

Banks led the way higher Friday after the Federal Reserve late Thursday approved plans by the country’s 18 biggest banks to return more money to shareholders. The approvals were part of the Fed’s annual checkup of the banking system. JPMorgan Chase shares rose 2.7%. Bank of America climbed 2.8%.

Industrial and energy stocks also notched strong gains. Union Pacific rose 1.9%. Oil companies, including Chevron and Exxon, gained ground.

Constellation Brands climbed 4.6% after the wine and beer company raised its profit forecast for the year after a blowout fiscal first-quarter financial report. Constellation recently sold some of its lower-end wines as it focuses more on its premium wine options and its beer sales.

Secondhand-fashion online retailer RealReal jumped on its first day of trading. The company, which offers a marketplace for discounted Gucci and other luxury goods, surged 44.5% after its initial public offering hit the market at $20 per share.

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Benchmark crude oil fell 96 cents to settle at $58.47 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, held steady at $66.55 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline fell 3 cents to $1.92 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.93 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent to $2.31 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $1.30 to $1,409.70 an ounce. Silver rose 5 cents to $15.25 an ounce. Copper stayed at $2.71 a pound.

The dollar rose to 107.78 yen from 107.76 yen. The euro rose to $1.1378 from $1.1373.


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