Wall Street rallied for a second straight day on Wednesday as investors bought up financial shares after JPMorgan's quarterly results.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq touched their highest point of the year, while the Dow Industrials reached a nearly five-month high.
JPMorgan (JPM.N), the No. 1 U.S. bank by assets, reported a quarterly profit that topped low market expectations. Its shares climbed more than 4 percent and gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
Financials .SPSY, the worst performing sector this year, were the leading group on Wednesday, climbing 2.2 percent. Other big bank earnings are due this week, including reports from Bank of America (BAC.N) and Wells Fargo (WFC.N) on Thursday.
"It’s a positive that (JPMorgan) earnings were well received," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut. "It’s just a quiet tape and there’s not much going on, so it doesn’t take much to create the move."
Investors have been bracing for a weak overall first-quarter earnings season, with greater potential for positive surprises given the diminished expectations. S&P 500 profits are expected to have declined 7.8 percent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"You have declining earnings and high stock prices. It’s not a good combination," O'Rourke said. "As people get excited about beating a lower bar, that’s probably unlikely to be sustainable for any extended period of time."
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 173.23 points, or 0.98 percent, to 17,894.48, the S&P 500 .SPX had gained 17.15 points, or 0.83 percent, to 2,078.87 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC had added 62.47 points, or 1.28 percent, to 4,934.56.
Apple (AAPL.O) was the biggest positive influence on the Nasdaq, with shares rising 1.5 percent.
Wall Street's rocky start to 2016, amid concerns over the global economy, was followed by a sharp rebound starting in mid-February. Stocks have steadied in April and the S&P 500 is now slightly positive for 2016.
China's exports in March returned to growth for the first time in nine months, further signs of stabilization in the world's second-largest economy.
Harley-Davidson (HOG.N) rose 3.9 percent to $46.66 after UBS said it expected the motorcycle company's March retail sales to beat analysts' estimates.
CSX (CSX.O) shares rose 4.3 percent to $26.06 a day. The No. 3 U.S. railroad posted a lower net profit in the first quarter but met market expectations.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,310 to 692, for a 3.34-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 2,252 issues rose and 563 fell for a 4.00-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq recorded 42 new highs and 10 new lows.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Nick Zieminski)
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