U.S. stocks closed higher on Friday, with the Dow topping 18,000 for the first time in April as investors looked ahead to the official start of earnings season next week. (Tweet This)
"I think this week we had some pretty good headlines—high profile M&A that boosted confidence, especially the Shell deal (indicating there) will be more M&A in energy," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank. "It boosts quality."
Shell's $69 billion deal to acquire UK-based BG Group was just one of several major corporate announcements this week.
Ablin added that fair to positive economic data and signs of global recovery helped equities gain.
The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 posted their second straight week of gains, boosted by General Electric. The firm announced on Friday a major restructuring of GE Capital, including the sale of most of the unit's assets, and will institute a $50 billion stock buyback program with proceeds from the move.
"This is something they've been discussing since the financial crisis," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "I think it just took them this long to find a buyer."
GE jumped 10.8 percent to $28.51 a share, the highest close since September 2008. The stock traded 351 million shares, the most volume since March 2009.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 98.92 points, or 0.55 percent, at 18,057.65, with General Electric leading advancers and Nike the greatest laggard. The index briefly added more than 100 points in afternoon trade.
The S&P 500 closed up 10.88 points, or 0.52 percent, at 2,102.06, breaking the significant resistance levels of 2,090 and 2,100. Industrials gained 1.8 percent to lead all 10 sectors higher.
The Nasdaq closed up 21.41 points, or 0.43 percent, at 4,995.98.
The Dow transports closed up 0.68 percent, and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) ended the day up 1.24 percent.