USA stocks rose on Friday, lifting the S&P 500 above the 2,900 mark for the first time since early October, boosted by gains in Walt Disney shares and as bank stocks surged after strong results from JPMorgan. Banks have been benefiting from higher interest rates, which allows them to book fatter profits from making loans.
Grabbing the spotlight in the energy sector was Chevron Corp's $33 billion offer to buy smaller rival Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
Shares in Walt Disney, also listed on the Dow, surged after the company announced the launch of its video streaming service, posting a gain of 11.15 percent and ending at $130.06, an all-time high, marking its biggest one-day increase in almost a decade. Disney will be going head-to-head with Netflix, which declined.
Data from China showed exports rebounded in March but imports shrank for a fourth straight month and at a sharper pace.
The S&P 500 index is now less than 2% away from its all-time high hit in September, helped by the Federal Reserve's patient stance on raising interest rates and signs of progress in the U.S.
Investors will be focusing over the next few weeks on company earnings reports in hopes of gleaning clues about the trajectory of the USA economy and corporate profits. Citigroup, UnitedHealth Group and Johnson & Johnson are among the bigger companies releasing results next week.
April 12 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 crossed the 2,900 mark for the first time since early October on Friday, boosted by a jump in Walt Disney shares and as bank stocks surged after strong results from JPMorgan. The increase puts the index close to recovering its losses for the week.
At 9:55 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 263.82 points, or 1.01%, at 26,406.87, the S&P 500 was up 20.17 points, or 0.70%, at 2,908.49 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 35.45 points, or 0.45%, at 7,982.81. The average still finished slightly lower for the week. S&P 500 e-minis were up 15.5 points, or 0.54% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 35.75 points, or 0.47%.
The market was coming off a wobbly week as investors anxious 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".
OIL! Anadarko Petroleum surged 32 percent as Chevron transferred in with a $33 billion buyout which will give it a position at the energy-rich Gulf of Mexico along with Permian Basin region in Texas.
Oil prices have surged almost 40% so far this year, sending energy company revenues higher and giving them more funds for investment.
Pioneer Natural Resources rose 9.8% and Devon Energy rose 5.7 percent. Chevron was one of the sector's few decliners, dropping 4.9 percent. Its stock rose 4.7 per cent and led a broad rally in bank stocks.
"Expectations for this earnings cycle have been subdued, but after results from these big financials it shows that things have started off really well".
Wells Fargo wrapped up the week 2.64% lower despite its first-quarter numbers seeing net income climb 14% year-on-year on the back of cost-cutting exercises and a lower than expected drop in revenues.