Wall Street rallied today after better-than-expected quarterly results from JPMorgan Chase and two other companies in the Dow Jones industrials...
NEW YORK — Wall Street rallied today after better-than-expected quarterly results from JPMorgan Chase and two other companies in the Dow Jones industrials raised investors’ hopes that companies and the economy are indeed recovering from the protracted global credit crisis. The blue-chip index rose more than 250 points as investors shrugged off any concerns about oil passing $115 a barrel for the first time.
The Dow average closed up 256.80, or 2.1 percent, at 12,619.27. The index is up nearly 900 points from a low near 11,740, reached March 10.
Microsoft, also one of the 30 Dow stocks, gained 71 cents to close at $28.96 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, advanced 97 cents to $76.67.
Broader markets also gained. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 30.28, or 2.3 percent, to 1,364.71; and the Nasdaq composite index added 64.07, or 2.8 percent, to 2,350.11.
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Investors anxious about corporate earnings and their impact on the economy were relieved after JPMorgan Chase, Coca-Cola, and Intel all topped first-quarter projections.
The battered financial sector advanced after JPMorgan beat analysts’ expectations despite a 50 percent drop in quarterly profit. The nation’s third-biggest bank, which is in the process of acquiring ailing Bear Stearns, reported $2.6 billion of write-downs tied to its loan portfolio.
“You have a combination of JPMorgan and all these other strong earnings out there from a broad range of sectors, and that’s helping the buying we’re seeing,” said Todd Salamone, director of trading and vice president of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “There’s an unwinding of all the negativity that we saw ahead of the earnings season.”
Salamone and other analysts have been hoping that strength in corporate earnings would act as a catalyst for a significant rally; the market has managed a choppy ascent since hitting lows in early March. Investors have been growing more confident in recent weeks that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to boost the economy and the troubled credit markets are working. Today’s earnings reports bolstered that sentiment.
In addition to earnings results, Wall Street weighed sluggish economic reports on inflation and housing that were mostly within expectations. The Federal Reserve also released its Beige Book report, which said the economy is weakening amid a softening labor market.
But neither those factors nor a new trading high of $115.07 for a barrel of oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange damped the market rally.
Oil prices rose after a government report showed crude inventories fell unexpectedly last week, the second straight weekly decline. Light, sweet crude settled up $1.14 at a record $114.93 a barrel on the Nymex.
“The market has been worried about the U.S. consumer being flat on his back for some time and the high price of oil feeds into that,” said Kevin Gaughan, portfolio manager and equity strategist at Wells Capital Management in Milwaukee.
He suggested investors who had been myopically focusing on the U.S. consumer are rotating back to a more global view, and looking toward expanding markets overseas. “The oil thing is certainly a global constraint on consumer spending, but you have so many more consumers coming into the marketplace via Asia and other places, the numbers there are a huge offset,” Gaughan said.
In fact, Coca-Cola credited overseas growth with boosting its first-quarter profit 19 percent, despite weak results in North America.
Associated Press business reporter Eileen AJ Connelly in New York contributed to this story.