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Corporate profit reports lift stocks

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Photographs by Seth Perlman / AP

Gary Niemeyer plants 1,550 acres of corn earlier this month on his farm in Auburn, Ill.

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks climbed Thursday as industrial companies, banks, technology and materials firms, and energy companies all rallied. A strong day of corporate results left investors feeling better about the economy.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 17.67 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,355.84. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 174.22 points, or 0.9 percent, to 20,578.71.

The Nasdaq composite gained 53.74 points, or 0.9 percent, to an all-time high of 5,916.78. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 17.02 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,384.15.

For more than a week, investors have been poring over company earnings for signs the economy is growing at a faster pace, and on Thursday they felt they found it. Railroad operator CSX gave transportation companies like railroads and airlines a lift while Sherwin-Williams raised its annual projections and helped basic-materials-makers go higher.

It's still early in this round of earnings reports and a few high-profile companies have disappointed Wall Street this week, so stocks have wobbled recently. But for the most part experts and investors are encouraged by what they're hearing. They say companies feel good about the economy and expect stronger growth and bigger profits.

"The major takeaway so far to earnings season is the CEOs are still saying we're poised for growth," said J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. "Last quarter was sort of the first time we heard this theme."

American Express had a solid first quarter as its credit card members spent more and kept bigger balances on their cards. The stock gained $4.47, or 5.9 percent, to $80.02. SLM, the parent of the student lender Sallie Mae, reported much stronger revenue than expected and its stock climbed $1.17, or 10.1 percent, to $12.70. Citizens Financial rose $1.05, or 3.1 percent, to $35.27 after its report.

CSX announced a bigger profit and more revenue than Wall Street expected in the first quarter. CSX also said restructuring and spending cuts will increase its profit by about 25 percent this year. The company is cutting jobs and reorganizing after it hired Hunter Harrison, former head of Canadian Pacific, as its new CEO last month. The company also said it will buy back more stock and raise its dividend. CSX stock jumped $2.65, or 5.6 percent, to $49.58.

Sherwin-Williams raised its profit guidance for the year as paint sales jumped and prices increased. The stock added $12.48, or 4 percent, to $324.02. That helped basic materials companies. So did steel-maker Nucor, which rose $2.73, or 4.7 percent, to $60.35 after its first-quarter results were stronger than expected.

Bond prices fell further. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.23 percent from 2.22 percent.

Energy prices wobbled and finished lower. Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 17 cents to $50.27 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, the international standard, rose 6 cents to $52.99 a barrel.

Gold rose 40 cents to $1,283.80 an ounce. Silver lost 14 cents to $18.02 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.54 a pound.

Business on 04/21/2017

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