- U.S. stocks applauded solid consumer spending numbers on Friday, though equities trimmed gains when investors sold and jumped to the sidelines to brace for first-quarter earnings to begin publishing in April.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow 30 rose 0.36%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.46%, while the Nasdaq rose 0.11%.

The Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. personal spending rose 0.3% in February, in line with expectations, Personal spending in January was revised down to a 0.2% gain from a previously estimated 0.4% increase.

A separate report revealed that the core U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index remained unchanged at 0.1% last month, in line with expectations.

Elsewhere the revised Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index ticked up to 80.0 in March from 79.9 the previous month. Analysts had expected the index to rise to 80.5 this month.

Stocks rose, as the largely positive data came a day after economic reports showed that U.S. jobless claims fell to the lowest level since late November last week, while U.S. economic fourth quarter growth was revised higher.

Later in the session, profit taking kicked in and trimmed gains, as investors flocked to the sidelines to await the release of first-quarter earnings in early April.

Monday will mark the last trading day of the quarter.

Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), up 2.38%, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), up 1.53%, and Cisco Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CSCO), up 1.39%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average''s worst performers included Visa Inc (NYSE:V), down 1.72%, Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE), down 0.70%, and Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ), down 0.56%.

European indices, meanwhile, finished higher.

After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rose 1.17%, France''s CAC 40 rose 0.74%, while Germany''s DAX rose 1.44%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 rose 0.41%.

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