Banks push US stocks higher after reporting solid profits

Alex Veiga, Associated Press
Published 10:02 a.m. ET April 12, 2019 | Updated 2:15 p.m. ET April 12, 2019


For many younger investors, the stock market has only gone one direction: up. The S&P 500 is in the midst of its longest-ever bull run, and it’s been nearly nine and a half years since the last drop of 20 percent. (Aug. 22)

Stocks marched broadly higher in afternoon trading Friday on Wall Street, putting the market on track to erase much of the losses it sustained this week.

Banks led the gains after a solid quarterly profit report from JPMorgan Chase opened the latest round of highly anticipated company earnings. Banks have been benefiting from higher interest rates, which allows them to book fatter profits from making loans.

Communications, industrial and technology companies also helped lift the market. Health care and utilities stocks lagged.

Energy companies rose after Chevron said it would pay $33 billion to buy rival Anadarko Petroleum. The sector has been rising as oil prices moved steadily higher throughout the year.

Disney surged to an all-time high after it announced plans to offer its own video streaming service. Disney will be going head-to-head with Netflix, which declined.

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Fears over a global economic slowdown were put in check by a surge in China’s exports in March. That marks a turnaround from a severe contraction in February as the U.S. and China continue negotiating a resolution to their costly trade war. Indexes in Europe and Asia rose broadly.

Investors continue focusing on company earnings reports due over the next few weeks in hopes of gleaning clues about the trajectory of the U.S. economy. Citigroup, UnitedHealth Group and Johnson & Johnson are among the larger companies releasing results next week.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.6% as of 1:14 p.m. Eastern Time. The benchmark index erased its losses for the week and is now on track to post its third straight weekly gain.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 250 points, or 1% to 26,393, riding the surge in demand for shares of Disney, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. The average is still down slightly for the week.

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The Nasdaq composite rose 0.4% and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.3%.

EXPERT’S TAKE: The market is coming off a wobbly week as investors worried that the early first-quarter earnings reports would come in even weaker than the low expectations analysts already have.

Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA, said the solid results from major banks Friday were encouraging, but investors need to see more.

“In general, you need to have the financial companies participate in order for a market advance to continue,” Stovall said. “Investors will be waiting, listening for other news that would be beneficial not only to banks, but to industrial and technology stocks.”

MAKING BANK: JPMorgan Chase rose 4.6% after reporting solid profits in the first quarter. They are the first major bank to release financial results.

Wells Fargo initially rose after its results beat analysts’ forecasts, but it turned lower in midmorning trading and was down 2.6%.

Both reports show that higher interest rates during the quarter drove increases in revenue. Those higher rates allow banks and financial companies to charge more for loans and credit cards.

Goldman Sachs picked up 2.3%, Bank of America added 3.3% and Citigroup rose 2.5%.

STREAMING MOUSE: Disney surged 10.5% after it released plans to offer a streaming entertainment service.

Disney Plus video is scheduled to roll out on November 12 at $6.99 per month. The service is well below the $13 monthly price tag for rival Netflix, whose stock fell 3.9%.

Disney ended a lucrative licensing relationship with Netflix in order to create the streaming service. It faces challenges as it builds a service to compete with the entrenched streaming leaders, which also include HBO Go and Showtime.

AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed to this report.





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