Stocks finished broadly higher on Friday as Wall Street closed out the first quarter with the market's biggest quarterly gain in nearly a decade.
The benchmark S&P 500 index is now up 13.1 percent this year, a drastic turnaround for stocks after a jarring 14 percent sell-off in the last three months of 2018.
Local stocks rise in quarter
Among the eight publicly traded stocks headquartered in the Chattanooga area, shares rose in the first quarter at three fourths of the companies. The Dow Jones Industrial rose 11.1 perent and the broader S&P 500 was up 13 percent in the first three months of 2019.
› Dixie Group rose 32.3 percent to 94 cents per share
› Astec Industries rose 25 percent to $37.76 per share
› U.S. Xpress rose 17.8 percent to $6.61 per share
› Unum rose 15.1 percent to $33.83 per share
› Miller Industries rose 14.2 percent to $30.85 per share
› Mohawk Industries rose 7.8 percent to $126.15 per share
› Covenant Transport fell 1.11 percent to $18.98 per share
› CBL Properties fell 19.2 percent to $1.55 per share
New data pointing to lower inflation and renewed optimism among investors that the trade talks between the U.S. and China are making progress helped drive the rally. Bond yields also continued to rise from recent lows, easing concerns about a steep drop in long-term yields heading into this week.
"Low interest rates, low inflation, possibly better trade, that's enough here to move the market higher," said Mile Baele, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
The Dow ended the quarter with an 11.2 percent gain, while the Nasdaq is up 16.5 percent. The Russell 2000 is 14.2 percent higher this year.
The U.S. stock market rebounded strongly in the first quarter after closing out 2018 with a steep sell-off. The S&P 500's technology sector powered much of those gains, climbing 19.3 percent over the last three months.
The Federal Reserve sparked the rebound by announcing a more patient approach to further interest rate hikes. The move reassured investors, who'd worried that the Fed would continue to raise rates amid signs of a slowing global economy.
"As disappointing and perhaps shocking as the sell-off in the fourth quarter was, with the Fed getting out of the way, the rebound has been equally as shocking," said Baele. "Essentially, we're just back to where we were in October."