Wall Street boosted by improved China trade data

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 128.51 points (0.73 percent) at 17,849.76, 45 minutes into trade
AFP

New York (AFP) – US stocks scored solid gains Wednesday, joining a rally on European and Asian markets linked to China’s improved trade data and lifted by JPMorgan Chase’s better-than-expected first-quarter earnings.

Forty-five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 128.51 points (0.73 percent) at 17,849.76.

The broad-market S&P 500 advanced 13.73 (0.67 percent) to 2,075.45, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite leaped 55.97 (1.15 percent) to 4,928.06.

Chinese exports rocketed by 11.5 percent in March from a year ago to $160.8 billion. That followed a 25 percent slump in February and marked the first gain in nine months.

“The strong export growth had a lot to do with an easier comparison to last year due to the timing of Chinese New Year, yet this isn’t a market that looks too intent on poking holes in much of anything,” said Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com.

JPMorgan Chase led the Dow higher, up 3.2 percent. The bank reported a steep 6.7 percent profit drop year-over-year in the first quarter but adjusted earnings per share were $1.35, well above the $1.26 analyst estimate. Revenues fell but also exceeded expectations.

JPMorgan, the largest US bank by assets and the first to report as the earnings season gets under way, lifted financials. Bank of America rose 2.6 percent, Wells Fargo 1.4 percent and Citigroup 4.1 percent.

Railroad operator CSX surged 3.2 percent after reporting first-quarter earnings in line with forecasts and a 14 percent drop in revenues. The company warned it expected full-year earnings per share to decline this year in part as a result of “ongoing coal headwinds.”

Peabody Energy, the largest US coal miner, filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, battered like the rest of the industry by competition from cheap natural gas and a push for cleaner energy.

Economic data disappointed. March retail sales fell 0.3 percent and producer prices slipped 0.1 percent, whereas both reports were expected to show gains.

O’Hare said the two reports “make it clear that first quarter economic activity was weak.” Still, stocks probably found support “by the thinking that these reports don’t argue in favor of a near-term rate hike.”

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