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The U.S. equity markets overcame early losses to edge out modest gains by the end of the day, buoyed by strong retail sales data. The S&P 500 closed about 11 points shy of an all-time record.
At the close: DJIA: +0.04%, S&P 500: +0.13%, NASDAQ: +0.09%.
On the commodities front, WTI Crude Oil (NYSEARCA:USO) edged down 12 cents to $92.42 per barrel. Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for April delivery, the most active contract, dipped $3.30 to close at $1,588.40 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for May declined 21 cents to finish at $28.96. Both precious metals experienced weakness as the U.S. dollar bounced after better-than-expected retail sales.
According to the Commerce Department, retail sales rose 1.1 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted $421.4 billion, compared to January. However, almost half of the gain came from rising gasoline prices. Economists polled by Reuters expected retail sales to increase 0.50 percent last month. After the release, the greenback index climbed to as high as 83.06, its highest level in about seven months.
The Treasury Department reported that the deficit grew by $203.5 billion in February, less than expectations for an increase of $205. The gap between spending and revenue was 12 percent smaller than the same time last year… (Read more.)
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