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Wall St rallies, S and P cut losses

Friday, March 28 15:35:57

U.S. stocks climbed today, with all 10 major S and P 500 sectors gaining in a broad rally after comments from a Chinese official indicated that the country's government was ready to take steps to support its slowing economy.

With the day's gain, the Dow turned positive for the week and the S and P sharply cut its weekly losses and returned to solidly positive territory for 2014. The Nasdaq, however, remained on track for a negative week following an extended period of investors taking profits in some of the market's biggest outperformers.

China's Premier Li Keqiang said the government had the necessary accommodative policies in place and would push ahead with infrastructure investment. "We cannot neglect the increasing downward pressure and difficulties," he said in a speech on Wednesday, reported by the Xinhua news agency early on Friday.

The prospect of slowing growth in China, the world's second-largest economy, has long been a market headwind. Recent data has pointed to the weakest growth there since the global financial crisis, raising hopes that Beijing would step in with support for the economy.

"This could avert a slowdown in China, and any stimulus that helps growth somewhere should help growth globally," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

Red Hat Inc reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations late Thursday, though the company gave a full-year profit view that was below forecasts. Shares fell 5.7 percent to $52.95.

U.S. shares of BlackBerry rose 1.7 percent to $9.20 after reporting an adjusted fourth-quarter loss that was much narrower than expected. It also reported revenue that was below forecasts as smartphone sales continued to slide in all regions.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 132.39 points, or 0.81 percent, at 16,396.62. The Standard and Poor's 500 Index was up 14.94 points, or 0.81 percent, at 1,863.98. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 42.69 points, or 1.03 percent, at 4,193.93.