Wall St. hits new highs on bank earnings, economic optimism

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Investors are also keen for the upcoming earnings season, which kicks off Friday with reports from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

"I don't know how much of that is priced in right now", said Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco.

That helped the Dow Jones U.S. Airlines index up 2.25 percent.

JPMorgan Chase & Co rose 0.5 percent in choppy trading after the biggest USA bank by assets reported profit that beat estimates, benefiting from higher interest rates and loan growth.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent to 2,772.83, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.1 percent to 7,219.4, weighed down somewhat by a 4.2 percent drop in Facebook.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to increase by 11.8 percent on an average, with the biggest contribution from the energy sector, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The Russell 2000 is up 56.46 points, or 3.7 percent.

The S&P consumer discretionary index jumped 0.55 percent after data showed households bought a range of goods and figures for the prior month were revised higher, suggesting the economy exited 2017 with strong momentum. It closed at $1,305.20.

It measures the daily stock price movements of 30 large, publicly-owned US companies.

Delta Air Lines surged 4.8 percent after reporting fourth-quarter earnings of 96 cents per share, eight cents above analyst expectations.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.17-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.54-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

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