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Wall St rallies, S and P near record

Friday, March 21 15:30:26

Wall Street's upward momentum continued on Friday, with major indexes largely rising and the S and P 500 briefly climbing to a new record as energy and industrial names outperformed.

Both the Dow and S and P 500 are on track for their fourth day of gains out of the past five, and all three major indexes are set to close out a week of strong gains.

Geopolitical issues remained in focus after President Vladimir Putin signed laws completing Russia's annexation of Crimea and investors took fright at a U.S. decision to slap sanctions on his inner circle. Russia's MICEX stock index fell about 3 percent but recovered some losses.

While some analysts say U.S. equities are vulnerable to any escalation in geopolitical tensions with Russia, stocks were boosted by Moscow's assertion that no other Ukrainian region would be subject to intervention.

"The path of least resistance for markets is up, and so far it doesn't think the Ukraine issue is too big of a negative since no one really thinks that Putin will do anything too drastic," said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors Inc in San Antonio. "Of course if things do heat up, it would really become a headwind for markets."

Companies tied to the pace of economic growth were among the biggest gainers Friday, with energy and industrial shares rallying. Joy Global Inc jumped 3 percent to $56.79 while Halliburton Co was up 1.4 percent to $58.19.

On the downside, Nike Inc late Thursday said growing pressures from weak emerging market currencies would take a toll on its profit. The athletic apparel maker, which gets about 30 percent of revenue from emerging markets, also said China sales would be unchanged or slightly down this quarter. Shares fell 3 percent to $76.82.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 46.21 points, or 0.28 percent, at 16,377.26. The Standard and Poor's 500 Index was up 5.21 points, or 0.28 percent, at 1,877.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 20.27 points, or 0.47 percent, at 4,299.02.