Stocks rise as attention turns to earnings season

NEW YORK - Big profit reports from several banks on Friday reminded markets that already healthy earnings for U.S. companies are climbing even higher, and the S&P 500 rose to put itself on track to close out its best week in a month and a half.

Stocks around the world also climbed a day after President Donald Trump asked trade officials to consider the possibility of returning to talks on a free-trade agreement for countries around the Pacific. The move surprised investors, who have been worried that increasingly protectionist countries may embark on a trade war that would inflict collateral damage on corporate profits.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 rose 8 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,672 as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern time. It's on pace for a 2.6 per cent gain this week, its best since early March.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 64, or 0.3 per cent, to 24,547, and the Nasdaq composite rose 13, or 0.2 per cent, to 7,153.

EARNINGS POWER: Markets have been volatile in recent weeks as investors weigh how seriously to take the threat of a possible trade war. But those concerns relate to how much corporate profits will be affected in the future. At present, earnings are surging.

JPMorgan Chase on Friday morning said that its profit jumped 35 per cent from a year earlier. Most of the gains came from higher interest rates, which mean banks are charging more for loans, and a lower tax bill following Washington's recent overhaul of the tax code.

Across the S&P 500, analysts came into this earnings season expecting companies to report a 17 per cent jump in profits per share. That would be the strongest growth in seven years, and analysts say it could wrest the market's attention back to what they say are healthy underlying fundamentals. Over the long term, stock prices tend to track the ups and downs of corporate earnings.

BROAD SUPPORT: Broadcom rose to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after it said it will repurchase up to $12 billion of its stock. By taking shares off the market, such buybacks can result in higher earnings per share for companies. The technology company rose 3.5 per cent to $247.83.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 4 cents to $67.11 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 9 cents to $72.11.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 2.83 per cent from 2.84 per cent late Thursday. The two-year yield held steady at 2.35 per cent, and the 30-year yield ticked down to 3.04 per cent from 3.05 per cent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.62 Japanese yen from 107.23 yen late Thursday. The euro slipped to $1.2328 from $1.2329, and the British pound rose to $1.4266 from $1.4225.

MARKETS ABROAD: In Europe, France's CAC 40 rose 0.4 per cent, and Germany's DAX gained 0.6 per cent. The FTSE 100 in London added 0.1 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 per cent, South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.5 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged down 0.1 per cent.


AP Business Writer Youkyung Lee contributed from Seoul, South Korea.

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