U.S. stocks closed narrowly mixed Thursday, the final trading day of the quarter, ahead of the monthly employment report due Friday.
The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 posted two straight quarters of gains with a first-quarter rise of 1.49 percent and 0.77 percent, respectively. ( Tweet This )
The Nasdaq composite had its worst first quarter since 2009 with a 2.75 percent quarterly decline. All three major averages recovered from an intra-quarter drop of more than 10 percent.
"I think it's a combination of dovishness out of the Fed and ... no sign of a U.S. recession," said Ben Pace, chief investment officer at HPM Partners.
Materials ended almost 0.9 percent lower to lead nearly all S&P 500 sectors lower. Only utilities gained on the day.
Morgan Stanley on Thursday raised its price target on IBM to $168 from $140 based on the perspective the firm is "beginning to show a path toward revenue monetization" in its Watson data analytics service. Shares of IBM closed 2 percent higher.