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The S&P 500 index logged its best weekly gain in nearly a year Friday after a series of strong earnings, particularly from retailers, helped boost the stock-market benchmark.

Comments from a number of Federal Reserve officials, along with minutes from the U.S. central bank’s October policy-setting confab, suggested that the path of interest-rate increases is likely to be gradual, which helped soothe some investors’ fears that the first hike in nearly a decade would shake the market.

The S&P 500 rose 7.93 points, or 0.4%, to 2,089.17, notching a weekly gain of 3.3%, it best weekly gain since Dec. 19, 2014, according to FactSet data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 91.06 points, or 0.5%, to 17,823.81, lifting by a soaring shares in Nike Inc., which finished 5.5% higher, contributing 46 points to the blue-chip gauge’s advance.

The Dow ended up with a weekly gain of 3.4%, its largest since Oct. 9, FactSet data show.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index tacked on 31.28 points, or 0.6%, to 5,106.78. The index gained 3.6% this week, its largest weekly gain since July 17.

The minutes from the October meeting of Fed policy makers sparked a sizable rally ( when they were released Wednesday as policy makers emphasized that they would raise interest-rate slowly and carefully. A number of Fed officials voiced their commitment to raising rates gradually in the following days.

“You’re going to get a rate increase, then you’re going to get a very gradual process that will be telegraphed far in the future,” said Brian Fenske, head of sales trading at ITG.

Abercrombie & Fitch, Ross Stores Inc., and sevearl other retailers reported better-than-expected earnings reports, assuaging investors’ fears about underperformance in the space.

Though retail remains the best-performing sector this year, it was one of the main drivers of last week’s sharp decline after disappointing earnings from Macy’s Inc (, Nordstrom ( and others.

Fed speakers: St. Louis Fed President James Bullard ( said the rate of inflation will soon rise toward the Fed’s 2% annual target, helping to quiet concerns that stagnant inflation could dissuade policy makers from raising rates. Bullard has advocated for a rate increase at the Fed’s December meeting.

His speech followed remarks from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who said the ECB will deploy extensive stimulus measures to combat low inflation–once again suggesting that more easing is coming in December.

In the past, stocks investors haven’t responded well to the notion of policy divergence, because higher interest rates will increase borrowing costs for U.S. businesses. But investors recently experienced a shift in perspective.

“Investors are latching on to the notion that the U.S. economy is strong enough to sustain a Fed tightening program and that Europe and Japan still have more room for stimulus,” said Jack Albin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.

Movers: Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF) shares soared 25% after the company revealed that profit more than doubled in the three months through Oct. 31 (

Ross Stores Inc. (ROST) led the S&P with a 10% gain after the retailer reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. (

Shares in Gap Inc. (GPS) gained 7.5% after the retailer met its third-quarter earnings estimates, Though it did cut its profit guidance for the year (

Intuit Inc. (INTU) was up 5.9% after the software maker’s quarterly results, released late Thursday, topped forecast (

Foot Locker Inc. (FL) soared 5.7% after a strong earnings report.

Shares in Sprint Corp. (S) were down 5.4% after the company said it has signed a $1.2 billion sales and leasing pact ( with newly formed Mobile Leasing Solutions LLC.

Nike (NKE) shares closed near its 52-week high after the company increased its quarterly dividend by 14% and said it has approval to buy back $12 billion in shares ( The weekly gain of 8.9% for Nike is its best since the ended Sept. 26, 2014, when shares climbed 9.4% for the week, according to FactSet data.

Other markets: European stocks ( logged their best weekly gains in a month. . Asian equities ( closed higher, with Australian shares logging their best week in more than a month. Oil futures finished mixed, weighing on energy stocks late in the session ( Gold futures finished lower, logging a fifth straight weekly loss (