NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are climbing Wednesday afternoon. Banks, which have struggled this year, are making the biggest gains after JPMorgan Chase posted quarterly results that weren’t as bad as analysts expected. Industrial companies are rising on signs of strength in China’s economy.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 175 points, or 1 percent, to 17,896 as of 3:18 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 18 points, or 1 percent, to 2,079. The Nasdaq composite index advanced 68 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,940. After big gains on Tuesday, stocks are at their highest level of 2016.
BANK ON IT: JPMorgan, the largest bank in the U.S., said its first-quarter profit fell because of weak results in its investment banking business. Its profit and revenue were bigger than analysts expected, however, and the stock rose $2.64, or 4.5 percent, to $61.92.
Several other major banks will report earnings this week. Bank of America picked up 50 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $13.77 and Wells Fargo rose $1.20, or 2.5 percent, to $48.97. Citigroup jumped $2.41, or 5.8 percent, to $44.32.
THE QUOTE: Julian Emanuel, U.S. equities and derivatives strategist for UBS, said it didn’t take much to send banks, the worst-performing sector in the market this year, higher.
“Bank stocks have been so beaten up that any good news, either on better credit conditions driven by higher energy prices or news on cost-cutting, is likely to underpin those stocks,” he said.
Banks have slumped this year because investors are worried they will take big losses on loans to energy companies, and because interest rates in the U.S. are still low. That reduces’ the profits banks can make on loans.
RIDE THE RAILS: Railroad operator CSX gained $1.07, or 4.3 percent, to $26.06. The company’s profit fell as demand for coal got weaker and CSX hauled less freight, but expenses fell, partly because fuel costs dropped. CSX said it plans to cut more spending.
Other railroad stocks surged. Union Pacific added $2.04, or 2.6 percent, to $81.68 and Norfolk Southern rose $2.63, or 3.3 percent, to $81.3.
CONSUMER STRUGGLES: Consumer goods makers took some of the biggest losses. The Commerce Department said retail sales fell a little in March, although the Federal Reserve said overall consumer spending grew a bit in February and March. Americans have been cautious about their spending this year even though gas prices are low and jobs are growing. Tobacco company Reynolds American lost $2.31, or 4.5 percent, to $48.95 and Altria fell $2.12, or 3.3 percent, to $61.71.
Tyson Foods gave up $2.58, or 3.8 percent, to $65.79 and Clorox declined $2.03, or 1.6 percent, to $126.14. Campbell Soup shed $1.14, or 1.8 percent, to $62.84.
RISE OF THE MACHINES: Industrial stocks and tech stocks rose on reports that exports from China grew 11.5 percent in March compared with a year earlier. That was the first annual gain since June, and it’s a sign of life from China’s economy.
Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar rose $2.57, or 3.4 percent, to $78.67 and engine maker Cummins climbed $5.67, or 5.3 percent, to $113.48.
HIT THE GAS: Delphi Automotive rose $3.96, or 5.5 percent, to $76.31. Two years ago the IRS argued that some of Delphi’s businesses were based in the U.S. and should be taxed accordingly. Delphi said Wednesday that the agency agrees that’s not the case.
STRIKE: Verizon Communications slipped after around 39,000 landline and cable workers walked off the job Wednesday morning. Verizon’s contracts with its unions expired about eight months ago and little progress has been made in negotiations. The stock declined 75 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $51.20.
OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 rose 3.3 percent and while Germany’s DAX added 2.7 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain rose 1.9 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 2.8 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 3.2 percent.
OIL: U.S. crude slipped 41 cents, or 1 percent, to $41.76 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil pricing, fell 51 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $44.18 a barrel in London.
OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.53 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.27 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3 cents to $2.04 per 1,000 cubic feet.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note slipped to 1.76 percent from 1.78 percent. The dollar rose to 109.25 yen from 108.53 yen and the euro fell to $1.1285 from $1.1397.
METALS: Precious and industrial metals futures ended mixed. Gold lost $12.60 to $1,248.30 an ounce, silver edged up 10 cents to $16.33 an ounce and copper rose two cents to $2.17 a pound.