Stocks finished higher during a holiday-shortened week, helped by a spate of merger announcements and an easing of geopolitical tensions after Iran released 15 British sailors.
Gains were limited, however, by mixed economic data and uncertainty ahead of first-quarter earnings season. Tech stocks were a bright spot, while the housing-sensitive financial sector was among the biggest downside weekly movers.
For the week, the Nasdaq gained 2.2%, the Dow rose 1.7% and the S&P 500 climbed 1.5%. The major markets have now almost fully recovered from the late-February stock selloff.
On Monday, stocks managed to squeak by with gains at the close as a flurry of mergers helped investors shrug off weaker manufacturing data.
Concerns about the housing market abated on Tuesday following a positive surprise in the latest home sales and a sharp pullback in crude oil prices, sending the Dow up 128 points and a new five-week high. Oil declined as a resolution between Britain and Iran, appeared imminent.
On Wednesday, Iran made it official, calling the release of 15 British sailors a "gift" for England. Tech stocks were in focus after Wall Street analysts expressed optimism for software giant
Wall Street ended the week early on Thursday as stocks rose for the sixth day following news from the auto industry. Billionaire financier Kirk Kerkorian's investment firm Tracinda offered DaimlerChrysler $4.5 billion for the German automaker's Chrysler division. DaimlerChrysler and General Motors both closed Thursday with solid gains.