U.S. stocks have best week in two years

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Floor trader Ryan Falve calls out an order during the IPO of Easterly Government Properties, Inc. on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange February 6, 2015. Government Properties Income Trust (GOV) is a real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company engages in maintaining its properties, seeking to extend or enter new leases as leases expire, enter into new leases for its vacant space and selectively acquire additional properties that are majority leased to government tenants. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR4OIX4
Photograph by Brendan McDermid — Reuters

Despite a slump in trading Friday, U.S. stock markets had their best week in more than two years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week up more than 650 points, or 3.8%. The blue chip index had four straight days of gains followed by a modest dip Friday, when stocks fell 61 points, or 0.3%, to 17,824. The weekly gain pushed the Dow Jones to just shy of breaking even for the year.

The S&P 500 also dipped 0.3% Friday to 2,055 points, but the benchmark index managed to close the week up more than 3%.

Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 21 points, or 0.4%, Friday but gained 2.3% over the course of the week. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are both down about 0.2% on the year.

Rising oil prices pushed U.S. stocks higher during much. Crude climbed above $50 per barrel after months of declines while gasoline prices ended a record 123-day streak of declines. The weekly stock market gains were much-needed after both the Dow and S&P 500 dropped more than 3% during the first month of 2015. Falling oil prices and concerns over economic and political turmoil in Europe caused a string of market sell-offs in January.

Friday’s market weakness came after monthly employment data for January that beat analysts’ expectations and triggered worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve could raise interest rates sooner, rather than later. The Fed, while preaching patience, is widely expected to raise rates later this year. But a stronger-than-expected labor market could accelerate that decision.

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