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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

U.S. stock indexes end strong week with tiny gains

By Alex Veiga Associated Press

U.S. stock indexes marked their fourth consecutive gain Friday, an upbeat finish for a week that got off to a turbulent start as investors fretted about Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

In the days since the two-day market tumble ended on Tuesday, the U.S. stock market came close to regaining all the ground lost since the vote last week. It ended the week up 3 percent, its biggest weekly gain since November.

The main stock indexes in Europe posted even bigger gains this week, with British stocks recouping all their losses along the way.

At the same time, demand for U.S. Treasurys surged this week, driving bond prices sharply higher. That pulled down the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to 1.44 percent Friday, close to its record low.

Investors also bid up the price of gold, another traditional safe-haven.

“Clearly there is still an underlying sense of nervousness,” said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. “No reasonable economic theory would be telling you to buy bonds with this kind of yield. It’s more `I don’t care if I don’t make yield, I want my money back.“’

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 19.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,949.37. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 4.09 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,102.95. The Nasdaq composite rose 19.89 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,862.57.

The major stock indexes in Europe got a boost Friday as traders anticipated a coordinated central bank response to soothe volatility in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

The British government said it would abandon its goals of achieving a budget surplus by the end of the decade, which would free up more money for the economy. The announcement came a day after the Bank of England said it would likely offer more monetary stimulus to the British economy to help it cope with the drop in business activity it is experiencing in the days since last week’s vote to leave the EU.

All told, Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.1 percent Friday, while Germany’s DAX gained 1 percent. France’s CAC 40 added 0.9 percent.

In the U.S., consumer-focused companies rose more than the rest of the market Friday. Netflix climbed $5.19, or 5.7 percent, to $96.67. Harley-Davidson led the gainers in the S&P 500 index, climbing $8.95, or 19.8 percent, to $54.25.

Financial and utilities stocks were the biggest laggard.

Several automakers reported growth in sales for June, giving a boost to shares in several auto-related companies. Ford Motor, which posted a 6 percent increase in sales for the month, rose 15 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $12.72. General Motors added 59 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $28.89, even though the company posted a 2 percent decline in sales due a large drop in rental sales. Auto supplier BorgWarner also got a lift, rising 77 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $30.29.

Investors flocked to stocks in the face of narrowing choices for investments amid low or negative interest rates on many bonds.

Expectations of more financial stimulus from central banks, which lowers returns on fixed-income investments like bonds, have pushed investors into buying stocks. Returns on many government bonds around the world – particularly in Europe and Japan – are negative.

In Asia, stock markets were mixed.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 0.7 percent, while South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.9 percent and Taiwan’s TAIEX index added 0.8 percent. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 index gained 0.3 percent. Southeast Asian markets were mixed. The Hong Kong market was closed for holiday.

The dollar fell to 102.58 yen from 103.27 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1125 from $1.1077, while the pound fell to $1.3259 from $1.3244.

In energy futures trading, U.S. crude rose 66 cents, or 1.4 percent, to close at $48.99 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 53 cents to $50.35 a barrel in London. Natural gas rose 6 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $2.9870 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In metals trading, gold gained $18.40, or 1.4 percent, to $1,339 an ounce, while silver rose 97 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $19.59 an ounce. Copper added 2 cents to $2.22 a pound.

Among other big movers Friday:

– Micron Technology slumped 9.2 percent after the memory chip maker reported disappointing sales and gave an outlook that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. The company also said it will eliminate jobs to reduce its spending. The stock shed $1.26 to $12.50.