S&P 500, Dow rise on boost from bank earnings

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow rose on Wednesday after upbeat earnings reports from Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan boosted investor expectations of a strong rebound for corporate America amid swift COVID-19 vaccinations.

FILE PHOTO: A street sign, Wall Street, is seen outside New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Goldman Sachs Group Inc rose 3.9% after it reported a massive jump in first-quarter profit, capitalizing on record levels of global dealmaking activity.

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s shares fell 1.0% even as the largest U.S. bank’s earnings jumped almost 400% in the first quarter, as it released more than $5 billion in reserves it had set aside to cover coronavirus-driven loan defaults.

Wells Fargo & Co jumped 5.5% after the bank bounced back to a profit of almost $5 billion in the first quarter, ahead of Wall Street estimates as it reduced bad loan provisions and got a grip on the costs tied to its sales practices scandal.

“The bank earnings were strong, but the market expected them to be strong. So I think easy money has been made in the cyclical areas and it is going to be a little difficult now going forward,” said Christopher Grisanti, chief equity strategist at MAI Capital Management.

“So the question becomes how do the bank stocks rise more from here. That’s not clear. They have had a nice ride. I think there will be other places to make money more easily in the future.”

The Nasdaq Composite index was down 30.79 points, or 0.22%, at 13,965.31 in early afternoon trading, with high-flying technology stocks including Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Tesla Inc weighing on the index.

Five out of the 11 main S&P 500 sectors were higher in early trading, with financials up 1.1%, while the S&P 500 banks index added 1.4%. The S&P 500 energy sector jumped 4.1%, tracking higher oil prices. [O/R]

The S&P 500 financials sector was one of the best performers in the first quarter, rising 15%, even as the Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates low in the near future.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies in the quarter are estimated to have risen 25%, according to Refinitiv IBES data. That would be the biggest quarterly gain since 2018, when tax cuts under former President Donald Trump had powered profit growth.

Earnings at S&P 500 firms had dropped 12.8% in the first quarter of 2020 and 30.6% in the second, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

At 12:19 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 209.17 points, or 0.62%, at 33,886.44 and the S&P 500 was up 3.13 points, or 0.08%, at 4,144.72.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain-related firms including Riot Blockchain and Marathon Digital Holdings rose ahead of Coinbase Global Inc’s listing on the Nasdaq, a day after bitcoin hit a record high of over $63,000.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.40-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.05-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 66 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 79 new highs and 24 new lows.

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