Stocks notch their best week since November 2020.

on Mar20
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Oil prices slid and the Federal Reserve offered investors clarity on its plan to tame inflation, triggering a rally that pushed stocks to their best week in more than a year.

The S&P 500 rose 1.2 percent on Friday, its fourth consecutive day of gains, bringing its climb for the week to 6.2 percent. It was the index’s biggest one-week gain since November 2020, and followed months of volatility that had pulled major indexes sharply lower for the year as investors reacted to one bad economic turn after another. This week’s gains mean the S&P 500 has cut its losses for the year in half, to about 6.4 percent.

Tech stocks, which have been hit particularly hard by concerns about rising interest rates, which would make riskier investments less appealing, rallied. Apple, the most prominent stock in the S&P 500, gained 6 percent for the week. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index, which had fallen four consecutive weeks, ended the week up 8.2 percent.

“Too many tech stalwart stocks were oversold, and over the short term it seems unlikely Wall Street will see a material downturn now that commodity prices are no longer skyrocketing,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at OANDA, a foreign currency exchange and brokerage firm.

That volatility is most likely far from over, analysts have warned. But some of the pressures that had combined to sour once-ebullient markets seemed to be easing.

The biggest daily gain was Wednesday, after the Fed finally raised its policy interest rate a quarter of a percentage point. It was the central bank’s first decisive move to tame inflation, which has been rising at the fastest pace in 40 years. Markets had been trying to anticipate the Fed’s moves for months as policymakers tiptoed toward raising rates, with some investors and analysts fearing that the central bank could move too quickly, reversing the economy’s recovery.

Policymakers projected six more similarly sized moves this year, in line with what investors had expected, and the central bank’s chair, Jerome H. Powell, reassured investors on Wednesday that the economy was strong enough to withstand higher rates.

Oil climbed on Friday but ended the week lower, with Brent crude around $108 a barrel. That was far below its highs from earlier this month, when it approached $140 a barrel.

New lockdowns in China after a coronavirus outbreak have helped ease concerns about an energy crunch as oil from Russia, which produces about 10 percent of the world’s supply, has effectively been put on a no-buy list. It also helped that Russia and Ukraine held cease-fire talks for much of the week, even as the conflict between them intensified and Russia broadened its offensive in the country.

Coral Murphy Marcos contributed reporting.



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