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Stocks rally, lifting S&P 500 to its third winning week in a row

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A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
(Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty Images)

Stocks notched solid gains on Wall Street on Friday, finishing an uneven week of trading on a positive note.

The strong finish gave the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index its third consecutive weekly gain. The index is now down less than 1% from the all-time high it set Sept. 20, reflecting the market’s strong rebound this year after its dismal slide in December.

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

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 stumbled.

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Pacific Gas & Electric soared 20.6% after Gov. Gavin Newsom urged lawmakers to rethink rules on how California utilities pay for wildfires sparked by their equipment.

The stock market had a wobbly week as investors worried that early first-quarter earnings reports would fail to meet analysts’ already low expectations.

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

“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.”

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The S&P 500 index rose 19.09 points, or 0.7%, to 2,907.41 on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 269.25 points, or 1%, to 26,412.30, almost entirely erasing prior days’ losses but still finishing slightly lower for the week.

The Nasdaq composite rose 36.80 points, or 0.5%, to 7,984.16. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks ticked up 5.66 points, or 0.4%, to 1,584.80.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose to 2.56% from 2.50%.

Indexes in Europe and Asia closed broadly higher.

Technology, communications and industrial companies helped lift U.S. stocks Friday. Healthcare was the only sector to lose ground. So far this year, it’s lagging behind the other 10 sectors in the S&P 500.

The market got an early boost from new economic data out of China showing that the world’s second-largest economy benefited from a surge in exports last month, even as Beijing and Washington continued to negotiate a resolution to their costly trade war.

The gain marks a turnaround from a severe contraction in February and helped ease investor fears over a global economic slowdown.

The data on Chinese exports suggest that growth could rebound, said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments: “It wasn’t as bad as people had expected it might be.”

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In the next few weeks, investors will focus on company earnings reports in hopes of gleaning clues about the trajectory of the U.S. economy and corporate profits. Citigroup, UnitedHealth Group and Johnson & Johnson are among the larger companies releasing results next week.

Analysts expect companies in the S&P 500 to report a 3.4% drop in earnings per share from a year earlier, which would be the first decline since spring 2016. The expected drop in profits is due almost entirely to weaker profit margins.

Traders were encouraged Friday by JPMorgan’s quarterly report card. The investment banking giant rose 4.7% after it reported solid profits for the first quarter.

Wells Fargo initially rose after its results beat analysts’ forecasts, but its shares turned lower by midmorning and never recovered. The stock fell 2.6%.

JPMorgan and Wells Fargo’s latest results show that higher interest rates during the quarter drove increases in revenue. The trend helped boost other major banks’ stocks. Goldman Sachs shares picked up 2.5%, Bank of America shares climbed 3.8%, and Citigroup stock gained 2.3%.

Disney surged 11.5% after it released plans to offer a streaming entertainment service dubbed Disney Plus. The service is scheduled to roll out in November at $6.99 a month. That’s well below the $13 monthly price for rival Netflix, whose stock fell 4.5%.

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.

Energy companies rose Friday after Chevron said it would pay $33 billion to buy rival Anadarko Petroleum. The sector has been rising as oil prices have surged about 40% so far this year, boosting energy companies’ revenues and giving them more funds for investment.

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Anadarko shares soared 32%. Among other big gainers in the sector, Pioneer Natural Resources jumped 11.5% and Devon Energy climbed 7.4%. Chevron was one of the sector’s few decliners, dropping 4.9%.

Energy futures closed mostly higher. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.5% to $63.89 a barrel. Brent crude rose 1% to $71.55 a barrel.

Wholesale gasoline rose 0.3% to $2.04 a gallon. Heating oil ticked up 0.2% to $2.07 a gallon. Natural gas fell 0.2% to $2.66 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar rose to 112.08 yen from 111.66 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1296 from $1.1258.

Gold inched up 0.1% to $1,295.20 an ounce. Silver rose 0.6% to $14.96 an ounce. Copper climbed 2% to $2.95 a pound.


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