Stocks finished higher Thursday as investors assessed a strong batch of corporate earnings reports and better than expected economic data. The Dow climbed 214 points, while the S&P 500 added 0.9%, its best three-day performance in two months. The Nasdaq Composite gained 1.0%.
Trade updates remained in focus after President Trump signed an executive order that forces Chinese telecom giant Huawei to gain government approval before acquiring components and other technology from U.S. companies. An additional report indicated Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Robert Lighthizer are expected to visit China at the end of May for another round of trade discussions.
On the data front, a report showed housing starts rose 5.7% in April, topping March’s upwardly revised 1.7% figure. Additionally, initial jobless claims came in at 212,000 in the most recent week, below projections of 225,000. The strong economic updates sent Treasury prices lower with the yield on the 10-year note climbing four basis points to 2.41%. In commodities, WTI crude gained 1.1% to $63.08/barrel. COMEX gold slipped 0.8% to $1,287.10/ounce amid a stronger dollar.
The spike in Treasury yields helped Financials stocks rebound from recent weakness with the sector advancing 1.1%. The Materials and Technology groups also outperformed, gaining 1.3% and 1.0% respectively. In earnings news, Walmart climbed 1.4% to $101.31 after besting analyst earnings projections. Cisco Systems jumped 6.7% to $55.93 after topping analyst earnings projections and raising its forward guidance.
Breadth was positive on issues by roughly 2:1 on the NYSE and 3:2 on the Nasdaq. Composite NYSE Volume totaled more than 3.2 billion shares.