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U.S. stocks rise sharply in early trading

NEW YORK - Stocks rose broadly in late-morning trading Monday as the market headed for its fifth straight quarterly gain. Dow member Johnson & Johnson rose on news that it was selling a diagnostics business.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11 points to 1,868 as of 11:41 a.m. ET. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 91 points to 16,414. The Nasdaq composite rose 38 points to 4,194.

Twenty-eight of the 30 members stocks in the Dow average rose. Microsoft continued to rise after its Office for iPad software was released last week to highly positive reviews. Microsoft rose 82 cents, or 2 percent, to $41.12. Visa rose $2.85, or 1.4 percent, to $215.00.

Johnson & Johnson accepted an offer of about $4 billion from the private equity firm Carlyle Group to buy its Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics business. J&J said the deal for the blood-testing unit should close by mid-year. J&J rose 97 cents, or 1 percent, to $98.43.

Trading is expected to be heavier and more volatile Monday as investors close out their first-quarter positions. At the end of each quarter, fund managers will often sell their worst-performing stocks and buy the best-performing stocks in an effort to make their portfolios look better when investors get their quarterly statements. The phenomenon has the Wall Street nickname of "window dressing." If the stock market closes higher Monday, it would be the fifth-straight quarterly rise for the S&P 500.

"There's a lot of re-allocation going on today," said J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist with TD Ameritrade.

In a speech, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Monday that she thinks the struggling U.S. job market will continue to need the help of low interest rates "for some time." Her remarks come after investors had grown anxious that the Fed might raise short-term rates starting in mid-2015. Yellen has previously suggested that the Fed could start raising short-term rates six months after it halts its bond purchases, which most economists expect by year's end.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.75 percent from 2.72 percent late Friday. The price of crude oil slipped 14 cents to $101.52. Gold dropped $5.20 to $1,289.20 an ounce.

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