Stocks end 1Q with solid gains after day of listless trading

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For the first quarter, the Nasdaq is set to deliver the best return of the three main indexes, with a almost 10% gain as of Thursday's close.

US stocks closed higher on Thursday, 30 March 2017 as financial shares rallied following a positive reading of economic growth and the tech-heavy Nasdaq returned to finish in record territory after a month-long wait. The Russell 2000 index picked up 3.57 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 1,385.92.

Trading was largely subdued, suggesting portfolio managers looking to bolster their end-of-quarter performance had made their moves earlier in the week, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.

"The market has performed very well", Krosby said.

Investors are also turning their attention to the impending first-quarter earnings season to support lofty valuations for stocks.

The S&P 500 and the Dow are on track to score a 5% gain for the quarter, the biggest gain since 2013. In the third quarter of 2016, real GDP increased 3.5 percent.

The Russell 2000 is up 31.28 points, or 2.3 percent.

The Dow Jones was seen shedding around 26 points to open at 20,702.

Auto dealership companies were among the decliners Friday. CarMax slid 79 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $59.27.

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The $4 million options trade on Lowe's stock.

DIALED IN: BlackBerry surged 12.2 per cent after the company delivered a surprise fourth-quarter profit.

Apple supplier Broadcom Ltd (NASDAQ:AVGO) is set to dip 0.9% at the bell, following reports the company is joining up with private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners to throw its hat in the ring with an $18 billion bid on Toshiba's chip unit, which has roughly 10 other interested parties. (FMC) in exchange for $1.2 billion in cash and FMC Health and Nutrition.

The sale of the crop protection interests was a pre-requisite for the European Commission's approval of DuPont's merger with The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW). Shares in FMC jumped $8.42, or 13.7 per cent, to $69.92.

In corporate news, Lululemon Athletica shares plunged 23 percent after the Canadian yoga and leisure apparel retailer said first-quarter comparable sales were expected to fall. The Dow Jones could turn out to be the underperformance with a possible gain of around 4.8 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.6 per cent. Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8% as airline stocks retreated, while South Korea's Kospi gave back 0.2% on disappointing factory data.

Bond prices edged higher.

-West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.7 percent to settle at $50.35 a barrel, the highest close since March 7. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, slipped 13 cents to close at $52.83 a barrel in London. Natural-gas prices, meanwhile, extended earlier declines after a weekly decline in domestic inventories of the fuel was in line with market expectations.

The PCE price index rose 2.1 percent year over year, while core PCE price index, excluding food and energy, increased 1.8 percent from last year.

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