Equities extend rally; oil rebounds, helping rouble rise

Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:58pm EST
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By David Gaffen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Equity markets worldwide extended the week's rally on Friday and oil prices rebounded from recent lows, as investors closed out the last full week of trading in 2014 on an upbeat note.

Wall Street rose, and the S&P 500 came within a few points of its closing record high. The index has gained 5 percent since Wednesday for its best three-day stretch since 2011.

The release on Wednesday afternoon of the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy statement of the year, in which it pledged to be patient in raising rates, injected markets with a jolt of enthusiasm. Japan's recommitment to its massive economic stimulus campaign pushed Asian stocks to their best day in 15 months, and oil's rebound helped bolster the flailing Russian rouble.

"Fears have been at least pushed once again to the sidelines," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

The president of the San Francisco Fed, John Williams, on Friday told Bloomberg Radio that it was "reasonable" to think the Fed would raise rates in mid-2015, in line with comments from other Fed governors.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 0.15 percent to 1,7804.70, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 9.42 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,070.65, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.4 percent to 4,765.38.

The S&P energy index .SPNY jumped 3.1 percent on Friday.

For the week, the Dow gained 3 percent, the S&P 500 rose 3.4 percent, and the Nasdaq climbed 2.4 percent   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange December 16, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid