U.S. stocks rally amid economic data

NEW YORK, March 31 (Xinhua) -- Wall Street's major averages climbed on Friday as investors parsed a batch of economic data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 415.12 points, or 1.26 percent, to 33,274.15. The S&P 500 increased 58.48 points, or 1.44 percent, to 4,109.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 208.44 points, or 1.74 percent, to 12,221.91.

All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended in green, with consumer discretionary and real estate up 2.62 percent and 2.18 percent, respectively, leading the advance.

Markets got a boost as an inflation gauge the Federal Reserve follows closely rose slightly less than anticipated in February.

The U.S. personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index rose 0.3 percent last month, in line with consensus, for a 5 percent year-on-year increase, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

The core PCE inflation, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.3 percent, slightly below the 0.4 percent consensus, for a 4.6 percent year-on-year increase.

"February PCE inflation showed encouraging improvement after January's spike, but it's still too high," Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial, said in a note on Friday.

"There is still more time needed before markets get clarity on how the Fed will balance banking tension with its mission to fight inflation," he added.

Elsewhere, the consumer sentiment index released Friday by the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers fell to 62 in March from 67 in February.

For the week, the Dow gained 3.2 percent, the S&P rose 3.5 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced 3.4 percent.

For the month, the Dow rose 1.9 percent, the S&P 500 increased 3.5 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 6.7 percent.

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