Stocks Jump as Technology, Industrials and Banks Rally

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

U.S. stocks are climbing Thursday as technology companies, banks and industrial companies rally. Companies including Delta Air Lines and BlackRock are rising after they reported strong results in the first quarter. Big technology companies including Apple and Microsoft are making some of the biggest gains.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index gained 26 points, or 1 percent, to 2,668 as of 12:45 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 320 points, or 1.3 percent, to 24,510. The Nasdaq composite climbed 77 points, or 1.1 percent, to 7,146. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks advanced 10 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,557.

LEADERS: Apple rose 1.4 percent to $174.77, and Microsoft picked up 2 percent to $93.68 to lead the gains among technology companies, while Google’s parent company Alphabet gained 1.5 percent to $1,040.02.

In the industrial sector, Boeing rose 2.9 percent to $336.91, and Caterpillar picked up 2.6 percent to $150.55. Airlines also rose after Delta had a solid first quarter, as both passenger and cargo revenue improved. The stock rose 2.2 percent to $52.63, and other airlines including American and United Continental also climbed.

EARNINGS: Companies are starting to report their first-quarter results. Investment firm BlackRock gained 2.8 percent to $540.04 after it surpassed Wall Street’s expectations at the start of the year.

Home goods retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond plunged after it gave a weak forecast for the fiscal year. The company also said it expects its earnings to decline next year. Its stock fell 19.3 percent to $17.36. Retailer L Brands lost 56 percent to $36.02 after it said discounts increased in March and profit margins decreased.

Their online rival Amazon gained 1.5 percent to $1,448.50.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.84 percent from 2.79 percent. That helped banks because higher yields mean they can make more money from mortgages and other types of loans. JPMorgan Chase added 2.6 percent to $113.48, and U.S. Bancorp rose 1.7 percent to $51.42. Big dividend stocks like utilities and real estate investment trusts fell, as investors see them as an alternative to bonds and they are less interested in buying them when yields rise.

TRADE WINDS: The S&P 500, a benchmark that is used by many index funds, has fallen for three of the last four weeks as investors worried about trade tensions between the U.S. and China. It’s up 2.6 percent so far this week as investors felt new proposals by Chinese President Xi Jinping could help avert a trade war that would slow down global economic growth and corporate profits.

Xi said his government will reduce tariffs on imported cars, improve intellectual property protection and open China’s financial markets. On Thursday China’s government denied that Xi was trying to resolve the dispute and said negotiations with the U.S. aren’t possible right now, but investors sent stocks higher anyway.

COMMODITIES: Oil prices dipped after big gains over the last two days. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 0.3 percent to $66.63 a barrel in New York. It closed at a three-year high Wednesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 0.5 percent to $71.67 a barrel in London.

Precious metals prices tumbled. Gold dropped 1.4 percent to $1,340.80 an ounce and silver fell 1.6 percent to $16.51 an ounce.

DEAL DOUBTS: Bristol-Myers Squibb fell and Pfizer rose after an analyst for Citi Investment Research said a deal between the two drugmakers isn’t likely to happen. Analyst Andrew Baum said he met with Pfizer’s top executives Wednesday and that they have “no interest” in Bristol-Myers or other major deals right now. Bristol-Myers lost 2 percent to $58.96, giving it a market value of almost $96 billion. Pfizer rose 1.8 percent to $36.42.

OFF RAMP: Tesla edged lower after Reuters reported that the electric car maker withdrew from an agreement to cooperate with the government agency that is investigating the fatal crash of a Tesla car operating in semi-autonomous mode. Reuters said it will continue to assist the National Transportation Safety Board. As part of the agreement, Tesla wasn’t supposed to release information about the crash to the public. The stock dipped 1.5 percent to $296.54.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.30 yen from 106.95 yen. The euro fell to $1.2325 from $1.2362.

OVERSEAS: The DAX in Germany rose 1 percent, and France’s CAC 40 added 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain was little changed. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index dipped 0.1 percent while the Kospi in South Korea ended 0.1 percent lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent.

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