Stocks end mixed. Best first quarter since 1998.
Stocks closed out the quarter with the Dow gaining 742 points, its biggest first-quarter point gain in more than a decade and its biggest percentage gain since 1994.
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"That's what’s preventing the market from having a gangbuster year," Fantozzi said.Skip to next paragraph
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Volatility is likely to continue because many current concerns aren't resolved, and that will keep stocks rangebound, but Fantozzi expects by year-end, the market will have moved up by "high single digits."
"One of the primary reasons is the financial balance sheets of these companies are the strongest they’ve been in 30 years. They are all very healthy, very strong," he said.
Also, he said, the employment picture is getting better, citing falling jobless claims, and the robust private sector employment report by ADP on Wednesday. The government will release March nonfarm payroll data on Friday. Economists surveyed by Reuters expect the economy added less than 200,000 jobs in March.
Investors remain focused unrest in the Middle East and Japan’s nuclear crisis, but appear to remain confident in the global economic recovery as stocks keep rising. The market is poised to post the best quarterly result since 1998.
The situation also remained tense in Bahrain, but the military there has made it clear it will not tolerate any more public demonstrations. Meanwhile in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad refused to meet protesters’ demands.
"We’ve got a market that seems to resist everything from earthquakes to nuclear meltdowns, and it seems to be money looking to come in,” Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS Financial Services, said on CNBC.
Oil prices surged with U.S. light sweet crude climbing above $106 a barrel. For the quarter, oil rose more than 16 percent to $106.72.
Meanwhile London Brent crude ended above $117, rising nearly 24 percent for the quarter.