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US markets end higher as bank earnings provide lift

The US markets ended higher on Friday after a series of strong bank earnings, led by JPMorgan, boosted confidence in the US economy. JPMorgan kicked off the earnings season by reporting record first quarter earnings and revenues that exceeded street estimates. The better than expected results from JPMorgan partly offset some of the recent concerns about corporate results for the quarter.  JPMorgan Chief Executive James Dimon underlined  that even amid some global geopolitical uncertainty, the US economy continues to grow, employment and wages are going up, inflation is moderate, financial markets are healthy and consumer and business confidence remains strong.  Shares of JPMorgan rose 4.7% for their best earnings day since the release of second quarter 2012 results. Meanwhile, shares of Disney (DIS) also surged up by 11.5 percent after the entertainment giant initially priced its streaming service well below Netflix (NFLX).

On the economic front, reflecting another spike in prices for fuel imports, the Labor Department released a report showing US import prices increased by more than expected in the month of March. The Labor Department said import prices climbed by 0.6 percent in March after jumping by an upwardly revised 1.0 percent in February. Street had expected prices to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.6 percent increase originally reported for the previous month. Prices for fuel imports showed another jump, soaring by 6.4 percent in March after skyrocketing by 9.7 percent in February. Meanwhile, the report said prices for non-fuel imports edged down by 0.2 percent in March after rising by 0.2 percent in the previous month. Falling prices for capital goods, consumer goods, and non-fuel industrial supplies and materials more than offset an increase in prices for foods, feeds, and beverages.

Besides, after reporting a notable improvement in US consumer sentiment in the previous month, the University of Michigan released a report showing sentiment has deteriorated by more than anticipated in the month of April. The preliminary report showed the consumer sentiment index dropped to 96.9 in April from the final March reading of 98.4. Street had expected the index to edge down to 98.0. The bigger than expected decrease by the headline index reflected less optimism about the economic outlook, as the index of consumer expectations slid to 85.8 in April from 88.8 in March.

Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 269.25 points or 1.03 percent to 26412.30, Nasdaq gained 36.81 points or 0.46 percent to 7984.16 and S&P 500 was up by 19.09 points or 0.66 percent to 2907.41.

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