US Markets

Dow jumps more than 150 points as Goldman and JP Morgan lead bank shares higher

Are we finally leaving bank purgatory and entering bank heaven

Stocks rose on Wednesday as higher interest rates drove gains in the banking sector. Sentiment on Wall Street was also boosted as investors bet that a trade war between the U.S. and China will not be as bad as previously feared.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 158.80 points to finish at 26,405.76 with Goldman Sachs as the best-performing stock in the index. The advanced 0.13 percent to end at 2,907.95 as financials jumped nearly 2 percent. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.08 percent, however, as Amazon, Netflix and Apple all fell.

The tech-heavy index closed at 7,950.04.

Bank shares rose as the 10-year Treasury note yield marched upward to 3.09 percent, its highest level since May. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America all rose more than 2.5 percent. Shares of Citigroup, meanwhile, advanced 3.3 percent.

Equities also gained as a new round of levies against U.S. and Chinese products was not as bad as forecasts indicated.

China slapped retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods on Tuesday after the Trump administration imposed levies on about $200 billion worth of Chinese products. However, China will put a 10 percent tariff on some goods it had previously earmarked for a 20 percent levy.

On Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China was facing "greater difficulties" in keeping its economy stable. He also said: "Deeply integrated into the world economy, the Chinese economy is inevitably affected by notable changes in the global economic and trade context."

Li added, however, the Chinese have "sufficient tools" to manage these difficulties.

Fears of a full-blown trade war between the world's two largest economies are thorn for investors this year as tighter trade conditions could hurt corporate profits. These concerns have led to a volatile ride for investors this year.

Veteran trader Art Cashin on Wednesday's market action

Still, the S&P 500 is up more than 8.5 percent in 2018 and is less than 1 percent removed from a record.

"Trade tariffs will remain a major concern not only to corporations but to market participants and especially to those professional investors who have never experienced a trade war outside of what they learned in college," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth.

Pavlik added that while President Donald Trump's approach to trade policy is unconventional, "the U.S. economy is strong, earnings are healthy and confidence among consumers and investors remains high."

Boeing shares rose 0.5 percent while Caterpillar climbed 2.5 percent. Both companies are seen as bellwethers for global trade given their large exposure to overseas markets.

Asian stocks rose overnight, led by gains in Chinese and Japanese shares. Both the Shanghai Composite and Nikkei 225 rose 1.1 percent.

"Markets continue to ignore rising trade tensions, essentially hanging their hat on a 'Trump Tariff Put,'" said Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research. "If stocks begin to worry that the President's policies truly endanger economic and corporate profit growth and sell off, the administration will recalibrate."