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The S&P 500 index notched its biggest quarterly rally since the final three months of 2015, with buoyant technology stocks leading the way higher.

The index that tracks large-cap equities tacked on 5.5 per cent since the end of last year, making it its sixth straight quarters of gains.

Technology stocks led the way higher, advancing by 12.4 per cent. Consumer discretionary and healthcare shares also posted gains of more than 8 per cent each.

On the other end of the spectrum, energy shares lagged behind, tracking a decline in the price of crude oil. The energy sector shed 7.2 per cent over the course of the quarter.

Other world equities markets also posted solid gains: The MSCI all-cap share index excluding the US was up by 6.9 per cent for the first quarter, in what would be the best performance since the final quarter of 2013.

US bonds underperformed, with the broad Bloomberg Barclays US aggregate index posting a total return of 0.69 per cent. Still, that represented a rebound from the almost 3 per cent negative return in the final three months of 2016 that was sparked by the election of Donald Trump.

In commodities, US crude oil was down 5.8 per cent, ending the quarter at $50.60 a barrel.

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