U.S. Stocks Maintain Rally As Financials And Airline Shares Drive Gains

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Financial shares kept gaining Thursday, registering gains after the nation’s largest bank by assets, JP Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) boosted investor confidence in financial stocks with 1Q2016 earnings that exceeded expectations. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) also triggered interest in airline shares after it posted another quarter of record profits. But in the commodities market, oil and gold continued to pull back.

Bank of America rekindles financial sector

After JP Morgan kicked off first quarter earnings season for banks on a positive note with results that surpassed expectations, Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) and Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) added to positive sentiment with their own success. Bank of America’s Q1 profit dropped from a year ago, but the bank still managed to report earnings above what Wall Street had guided for the quarter. It was the same story at Wells Fargo, whose profits fell from a year ago because of continued pain in the oil market, but still managed to top expectations.

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With that, financial shares continued their upward rally, registering a fifth consecutive gain in the S&P 500.

Delta pulls up airline stocks

Airline shares also emerged among the top gainers in the S&P 500 as Delta Air Lines continued its string of record profits, which entered its 12th straight quarter. Shares of Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV), American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL) and United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL) climbed as well.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 18.15 points or 0.1% to finish at 17926.43, its best level since July 20. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) edged up barely, adding 0.36 points to 2082.78. However, the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 1.53 points  falling less than 0.1% to 4945.89.

Commodities

In commodities trading, U.S. crude oil for May delivery fell 0.6% to $41.50 per barrel, extending the period of volatile trading in oil. Prices of crude have tended to be more volatile this week ahead of the Sunday meeting of major oil producers in Doha to try and fix the oil glut problem.

In precious metals trading, gold continued trending down with bullion for April delivery dropping 1.7% to $1,225 per ounce. A stronger U.S. dollar and positive sentiment in the equity market are seen to be hurting gold.

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