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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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.Skip to next paragraph
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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.
The market also focused on news that potential Warren Buffett successor David Sokol unexpectedly resigned from Berkshire Hathaway. In a press release, Berkshire said Sokol bought shares of Lubrizol before recommending the company to Buffett. Sokol told CNBC Thursday morning that in retrospect, he wouldn't have told Buffett about Lubrizol, but he still would have bought shares in the specialty chemical company.
Both Berkshire's class A and B shares declined.
Fertilizer producer CF Industries, agriculture giant Monsanto and farm equipment maker AGCO shares advanced after a report from the Department of Agriculture's annual prospective plantings data showed increases in the number of acres planted with corn, wheat and cotton.
On the tech front, Microsoft traded flat after news the tech giant filed a formal complaint against Google with antitrust regulators in the European Union, saying Google is preventing competition in the business of Internet search. Microsoft has been the target of antitrust cases in the U.S. and Europe. One of Microsoft's subsidiaries had filed a complaint earlier.