Dow Jones Industrial Average Ends Turbulent Q1 with 1.6% Gain

Dow Jones Industrial Average Q1 GainThe Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was little changed before the close of trading on Thursday, heading to end a volatile quarter with a nearly 1.6% gain.

The Dow Jones index was flat at 17,717.21 as of 3:50 p.m. in New York. 17 shares were declining and 13 issues were advancing.

The Dow gauge was headed to end the month with a 7.2% advance and the first quarter with a 1.6% gain.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) was the largest advancer in the DJIA on Thursday with a 2.7% gain to $153.10. The Armonk, New York-based company reached a deal to buy Bluewolf Group LLC for an undisclosed sum.

The S&P 500 fell 0.2% to 2,059 and was heading to a 6.6% gain for the month and 0.8% increase for the first quarter.

The tech heavy NASDAQ Composite, however, was little changed on Thursday and heading toward a 2.7% loss for the first quarter.

A recovery in oil prices, easy monetary policy and better-than-expected U.S. economic data helped U.S. indexes heading to end the quarter higher despite the heavy losses they incurred during the first six months of the year.

Data on Thursday showed that the number of U.S. workers who applied for new unemployment benefits rose last week, but remained at a historically low level. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 276,000 in the week ended March 26.

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) gained as much as 4.6% to $232.77. The electric car maker is expected to unveil a prototype of the Model 3, a $35,000 electric sedan, at an event later on Thursday.

Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MON) dropped 4.2% to $87.22 after analysts at Bernstein cut their price target for the stock to $80.00 calling its reduce earnings forecasts “too optimistic”.

In commodity markets, oil futures settled at $38.34 a barrel on Thursday, up 2 cents for the session. Prices gained 13.5% for the month and 3.5% for the quarter.

Gold futures gained 0.6% to finish at $1,235.60, logging their best quarterly performance since 1986.

The Dow Jones index is 15% higher than its one-year low recorded last August but still 3.6% below its all-time high level scored in May last year.