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Dow closes more than 100 points higher as stocks shrug off hangover from report of Comey memo

Fred Imbert

U.S. equities closed higher on Friday as concerns about Donald Trump's presidency recede for the time being.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 140 points, with Boeing and Caterpillar contributing the most gains.

The S&P 500 gained around 0.7 percent, with industrials leading all 11 sectors higher, as shares of Deere rose 7.3 percent after posting quarterly results that easily beat expectations.

The Nasdaq composite rose 0.47 percent.

"With the special prosecutor, ... this gives the administration the opportunity to defer questions about the investigation. That's why we're seeing a bit of a relief rally," said James Smigiel, managing director at SEI.

Stocks suffered their biggest pullback of the year earlier this week after news that former FBI Director James Comey put together a memo on a conversation with Trump. In this conversation, Trump allegedly asked Comey to stop investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

"Trump's got everybody on edge, both Republicans and Democrats. Everybody thinks there's a smoking gun somewhere, and when you get something that might look like that, then people get excited," said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors.



Justice Department officials announced Wednesday that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had tapped former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel, taking over the investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election.

"For a while now, we've been in this tenuous position for stock prices and I think that's going to continue until we get more clarity," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors.

Trump made his first trip overseas since taking office on Friday, first traveling to Saudi Arabi, which is planning to buy billions of dollars worth of U.S. arms.

In economic news, there were no major data released Friday. However, St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said the central bank's plans to raise rates may be too fast.

The Fed is slated to meet next month, with market expectations for a rate hike near 80 percent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

U.S. Treasurys fell on Friday, with the benchmark 10-year note yield advancing to 2.233 percent and the two-year note yield near 1.27 percent.

The U.S. dollar fell against a basket of currencies, with the euro rising 0.92 percent to $1.1202.

"The US side should, however, become less USD negative, in so much as the market is starting to more realistically appraise the way politics will impact the Fed, notably via US financial conditions," said Alan Ruskin, global head of Group-of-10 foreign exchange strategy at Deutsche Bank, in a note.

"A June hike is still seen as very likely, while the 10y yield has also stopped short of the major 2.15/2.16% support line. In that sense the USD has more support, if Washington goes a little quieter, at least while the special prosecutor sets up infrastructure," he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 141.82 points, or 0.69 percent, to close at 20,804.84, with Caterpillar outperforming and Cisco Systems lagging.

The S&P 500 gained 16.01 points, or 0.68 percent, to end at 2,381.73, with industrials leading all sectors higher.

The Nasdaq advanced 28.57 points, or 0.47 percent, to close at 6,083.70.

About three stocks advanced for every decliner at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 1.028 billion and a composite volume of 3.805 billion at the close.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) , widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 12.2.

—CNBC's Christine Wang and Reuters contributed to this report.