Wall Street rallies after brief bout of political trouble

Wall Street staged a rally on Friday, erasing losses for the week as investor concerns eased about political uncertainty in Washington, and a surprise improvement in US consumer confidence helped lift stocks. The S&P 500 …

Wall Street staged a rally on Friday, erasing losses for the week as investor concerns eased about political uncertainty in Washington, and a surprise improvement in US consumer confidence helped lift stocks.

The S&P 500 index gained 0.4% and ended the week 0.1% lower after a string of retreats prompted by the receding prospects of Republican tax cuts and the turmoil surrounding President Donald Trump’s White House team.

The dollar climbed to its highest in almost two months against a basket of currencies.

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Treasury yields rose, sending the benchmark 10-year yield to its highest in more than seven weeks.

The Nasdaq dipped and slipped into negative territory for the week.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 123.4 in May from a downwardly revised 119.7 in April. Economists had expected a reading of 118.

Wall Street had been hurt in recent days by an unwelcome episode of drama over Trump’s political future and a barrage of negative headlines involving the administration and Russia.

The latest White House shakeup was triggered on Tuesday when the president’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned.

On Thursday, former chief strategist Steve Bannon was fired and the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, is expected to depart soon.

“There’s uncertainty in Washington, people are concerned about the tax plan, but the fundamentals are holding up,” said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W Baird in Sarasota, Florida.

Battling to keep control of their agenda, the Republican-controlled Congress is set to begin considering bills this week to gut Obamacare and overhaul the US tax code.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 86.38 points, or 0.34%, to 24,636.37, the S&P 500 gained 4.15 points, or 0.15%, to 2,682.91 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 15.47 points, or 0.22%, to 7,452.00.

Shares of European tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Facebook rose after European antitrust regulators handed down a record fine to Alphabet for abusing its dominance of the search market.

Tesla lost 8.1% after quarterly results disappointed Wall Street.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.18-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 7 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 76 new highs and 26 new lows.

About 5.06 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges. That compares with the 6.9 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

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