Dow surges nearly 300 points as Syria concerns ease, banks jump before earnings

  • In a tweet, Trump said: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place.
  • Bank shares led the gains, with J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs all climbing more than 2 percent.
  • Stocks rebounded as the latest corporate earnings season began.
  • Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo are among the companies scheduled to report Friday morning.

Stocks rose sharply on Thursday after President Donald Trump clarified his position on a possible missile attack in Syria, while bank shares popped ahead of earnings.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 293.60 points to close at 24,483.05, with Intel leading the index higher. The S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent to 2,663.99 as financials gained 1.8 percent. The Nasdaq composite advanced 1 percent to 7,140.25.

Bank shares led the gains, with J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs all climbing more than 2 percent. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) jumped 1.8 percent ahead of strong earnings expected from the major banks and the broader financial sector. Earnings are expected to grow 24 percent for financials.

In a tweet, Trump said: "Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our 'Thank you America?'"

"That's giving a boost to stocks, but the market is still gripped with uncertainty," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities. "Until that's gone, the market will stay in this volatile range."

Crude and gold futures retreated following Trump's tweet.

Frank Babino, a trader with Knight Capital Americas LP, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011.
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Frank Babino, a trader with Knight Capital Americas LP, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011.

The moves Thursday comes after a down session for Wall Street on Wednesday. The Dow dropped more than 200 points after Trump taunted Russia with the threat of imminent military action in Syria.

Trump appeared to criticize the Kremlin, for the country's support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, after a suspected chemical attack occurred in Syria over the weekend.

Stocks rebounded Thursday as the latest corporate earnings season began. Before the bell, BlackRock posted earnings per share and revenue that surpassed analyst expectations. The asset manager's stock rose 1.5 percent.

Delta Air Lines reported quarterly earnings that beat estimates, despite rising costs. The company's stock rose 2.9 percent.

Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo are among the companies scheduled to report Friday morning.

"The risk of earnings disappointing have increased," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. "This quarter, we've seen expectations for earnings go up. If we don't meet them, that could be at risk."

Investors have high expectations for this earnings season. According to FactSet, S&P 500 earnings are forecast to have grown by 17.1 percent last quarter. That would be the biggest quarterly earnings growth since the first quarter of 2011, when they rose 19.5 percent.

Dubravko Lakos-Bujas, head of U.S. equity strategy at J.P. Morgan, said in a note Thursday that earnings growth for the quarter could surpass expectations.

"In our view, there is still room for estimates to move higher given second order tax reform benefits are difficult to model (i.e., the impact of dynamic scoring, rising disposable income, lower utility bills, higher business investment, etc) and more likely to be reported than projected in advance by the Street and corporates," Lakos-Bujas said.

In economic news, weekly jobless claims fell by 9,000 last week to 233,000. Import prices, meanwhile, remained unchanged in March.

The major indexes briefly pared gains around midday in New York after CNBC reported the U.S. is considering attacking eight possible targets in Syria.

Correction: Peter Cardillo is chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities. A previous version of this story misstated the firm's name.