Dow gains more than 100 points as Goldman posts best day in 10 years

Stocks rose on Wednesday as investors cheered strong quarterly earnings from major banks like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 141.57 points to 24,207.16 as Goldman Sachs outperformed. The S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent to close at 2,616.10, led by a 2.2 percent gain in financials. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.15 percent to 7,034.69.

Goldman Sachs posted blowout quarterly earnings, sending the stock up 9.54 percent, its biggest one-day gain since 2009. Bank of America also rose 7.16 percent after reporting a record quarterly profit. The reports follow the releases of fourth-quarter results from Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo earlier this week. Morgan Stanley, another major bank, is scheduled to report on Thursday.

"Overall, Goldman had a good quarter," said Ken Leon, an analyst at CFRA Research. Also, "we did not see a multibillion dollar reserve for Malaysia," he added referring to the 1MDB scandal.

"For Bank of America, they performed well in their traditional banking areas," said Leon. "We did see better-than-peers deposit and loan growth. There was also healthy growth in consumer banking." Leon added Bank of America also had "more balanced and positive view than the other banks."

Separately, United Continental surged more than 6 percent after the company posted better-than expected earnings on Tuesday.

More than 6 percent of S&P 500 companies have reported calendar fourth-quarter earnings, according to FactSet. Of those companies, 85.3 percent have reported better-than-expected earnings.

However, strong earnings growth will be hard to find moving forward, according to Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout. "While stocks are in rally mode, S&P 500 EPS growth expectations are continuing to fall," Raich said in a note to clients. "Negative earnings momentum is a powerful force though investors should not become complacent."

The moves Wednesday follow solid gains in the previous session. The Dow closed more than 100 points higher on Tuesday as tech shares outperformed.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Equities have bounced back sharply this year after suffering massive losses to near the end of 2018. The major indexes were up at least 3.16 percent year to date. Since Dec. 24, they have all gained at least 8.8 percent. Stocks sold off towards the end of last year in part because of fear that the global economy was slowing down.

"In 2018, the U.S. recovery was on a path toward recession. It couldn't last much longer growing above 3% in real terms and 5.5% in nominal terms, with an unemployment rate below 4%," said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group, in a note. "The challenge was to stay appropriately cautious in the face of good news. This year, investment success may require remaining fairly bullish in the face of bad news."

Nordstrom shares fell more than 4.5 percent after the company said sales at some stores were "below expectations" during the holiday season. Meanwhile, Snap dropped more than 13 percent on news the company's CFO was resigning.

—CNBC's Ryan Browne contributed to this report.