Wall Street higher as financial stocks gain on strong data

(Reuters) – Wall Street ticked higher on Friday as financial stocks tracked gains in yields following data that showed strong U.S. factory output and improving consumer sentiment.

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Shares of JPMorgan (JPM.N) and Bank of America (BAC.N) rose nearly 1 percent, helping the S&P financial index up .SPSY 0.74 percent.

Retailers Walmart (WMT.N) and Home Depot (HD.N) gained more than 1 percent, boosting the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI, by 0.47 percent.

Economic data showed U.S. industrial production jumped 1.1 percent in February and the University of Michigan’s preliminary reading of consumer sentiment index rose more-than-expected at 102.0.

“Today we’ve got a market that’s doing pretty weak for the entirety of the week and some economic data that’s supportive of economic and earnings growth,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in New York.

“Both pieces of the economic data seemed to be really taking a positive direction to get the yield on the 10-year to bounce, so that’s showing some positive momentum.”

The three main indexes, however, were still on track to record losses. Markets were battered this week by fears of trade war after reports that President Donald Trump was planning to impose tariffs on Chinese imports and the ouster of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The S&P 500 rose 0.45 percent and was on course to break its longest losing streak in 2018. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite .IXIC gained 0.36 percent.

Adobe Systems (ADBE.O) was up 3.2 percent after the Photoshop maker topped analysts’ profit and revenue estimates for the seventh straight quarter.

Micron Technology (MU.O) rose 2 percent after Baird analysts raised price target on the stock by $40 to $100 and Western Digital WDC.N gained 3.2 percent after an upgrade to “outperform”.

Oil prices spiked with U.S. crude rising more than $1 per barrel, lifting the S&P energy index .SPNY by 1.2 percent.

Volatility is expected to increase on Friday as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to their expiration.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a 2.06-to-1 ratio and for a 1.67-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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