Goldman Sachs shares surged 9.5 percent, providing the greatest boost to the Dow, after the bank reported quarterly revenue and earnings that topped estimates. The shares registered their biggest daily percentage gain in nearly 10 years.
Bank of America shares jumped 7.2 percent, leading the S&P 500 higher, after the bank reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on growth in its loan book. The shares posted their biggest one-day percentage gain in 6-1/2 years.
The two banks' results drove a 2.2 percent gain in the S&P 500 financial index <.SPSY>, which was by far the biggest advancer among the S&P's major sectors. The S&P banking subsector <.SPXBK> climbed 2.7 percent.
A strong start to the U.S. earnings season, along with trade optimism and hopes of a slower pace in the Federal Reserve's interest-rate hikes, have helped S&P 500 recoup some of its losses from a recent rout. The index is now 10.7 percent away from its Sept. 20 record close after having fallen as much as 19.8 percent below that level.
"Overall, banks need a good economy and a properly sloped yield curve, and maybe we're getting that," said Kevin Caron, senior portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors in Florham Park, New Jersey. "We're starting to see that percolate into bank earnings."
With Wednesday's gains, the S&P 500 came within striking distance of its 50-day moving average, a key indicator of short-term trends, for the first time since Dec. 4. The Nasdaq crossed its 50-day moving average on Tuesday for the first time since Dec. 3.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 141.57 points, or 0.59 percent, to 24,207.16, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 5.8 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,616.1 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 10.86 points, or 0.15 percent, to 7,034.69.
Stocks slightly pared gains in the last half-hour of trading after the Wall Street Journal reported federal prosecutors were investigating Huawei Technologies Co Ltd
Among other stocks, United Continental Holdings Inc
Shares of First Data Corp
Ford Motor Co
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.80-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.62-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week high and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 32 new highs and 19 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.48 billion shares, compared to the 8.69 billion average over the last 20 trading days. - Reuters
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