U.S. stocks climbed for a second straight session on Wednesday as a rally in bank shares, sparked by better-than-expected quarterly results from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., fueled buying appetite.
Gains in J.P. Morgan(JPM), Goldman Sachs Group(GS) and American Express Co.(AXP) were contributing nearly half of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's early gains, while the S&P 500's financial sector jumped 1% to lead all 10 of the broad-market index's sectors.
The S&P 500 gained 16 points, or 0.8% at 2,078, with six of its 10 main sectors trading higher, with telecommunications and utilities, traditionally viewed as safety plays, leading losses, down 0.8%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 142 points, or 0.8%, at 17,865. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite was up 62 points, or 1.3%, at 4,934.
Investors appeared to brush aside disappointing retails-sales numbers and wholesale-price data for March and a modest decline in crude-oil prices, which settled at 2016 highs Tuesday.
"Oil prices are still above $40 a barrel and investors are hoping that the meeting in Doha will result in production controls," said Kristina Hooper, U.S. investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.
Major oil producers, including members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, are set to meet Sunday to discuss a freeze of crude-oil output, which could help stabilize battered oil prices.
Hopper suggested that robust export data from China was the main driver of the stock rally.
China's exports rose 11.5% in March (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/china-exports-expand-for-first-time-in-nine-months-2016-04-13) year-over-year in dollar terms, suggesting global economic growth may not be as weak as feared. Economists cautioned that the export boost, after months of decreases, in part reflects a seasonal upturn after the Lunar New Year holiday in February and isn't likely to be sustained.
"The market has processed a massive inventory correction and with signs that China is finally improving, it appears the worst is over," said Maris Ogg, president at Tower Bridge Advisors.
Ogg said it was encouraging to see J.P. Morgan and CSX shares rally even as they had profit declines, but which were less than expected.
"This earnings season is going to be a particularly important one and the difficulty lies in the fact that the market is not cheap. Investors should be prepared to buy things that are likely going to disappoint in the near future, as markets are likely to move sideways a lot," Ogg said.
Economic news: Wednesday's data came in below expectations. Sales at U.S. retailers were supposed to spring back in March due in part to higher gasoline prices, but instead they fell 0.3% to end the first quarter on a weak note.
U.S. wholesale prices fell 0.1% in March despite an uptick in the cost of gasoline, reflecting the low level of inflation in the guts of the economy. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had predicted a seasonally adjusted 0.3% increase.
At 2 p.m. Eastern, investors will get the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, which gives anecdotal evidence on economic conditions.
Individual movers:J.P. Morgan shares(JPM) rose 3.4% after the giant bank's quarterly results weren't as bad as expected (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jp-morgan-profit-slides-as-trading-struggles-2016-04-13-7485256), even as profit dropped.
CSX Corp.(CSX) share 4.3% rose after the company's quarterly earnings matched lowered expectations. Revenues fell 14% partly on a 5% decline in volume.
Read more: Analysts fear tumbling bank stocks could bring down entire market (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-why-banks-are-the-black-sheep-of-this-earnings-season-2016-04-11)
Peabody Energy Corp. shares (BTU) shares were halted after the coal company filed for chapter 11 protection (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/peabody-energy-files-for-chapter-11-bankruptcy-2016-04-13-41033117) from its creditors, just weeks after warning that it could go bankrupt.
Shares of Tenet Healthcare Corp.(THC) jumped after analysts at Susquehanna raised the stock to positive from neutral.
Spice maker McCormick & Co. Inc.(MKC) shares fell 1.9% after walking away from making a higher offer (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/mccormick-ends-takeover-pursuit-of-uks-premier-foods-2016-04-13) for U.K.-based Premier Foods PLC(PFD.LN).
Energy pipeline operator Kinder Morgan Inc.(KMI) is among the companies on the earnings docket after the market's close.
Other markets:Oil futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-lose-steam-as-investors-remain-unsure-about-doha-meeting-outcome-2016-04-13) moved lower, but European stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-rise-for-fourth-day-after-upbeat-china-trade-data-2016-04-13) traded higher, and Asian markets closed with strong gains (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-stocks-surge-as-oil-prices-rally-2016-04-13). Gold futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-catches-its-breath-after-longest-win-streak-in-two-months-2016-04-13) pulled back, as a key dollar index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-pushes-higher-along-with-global-stocks-oil-prices-2016-04-13) jumped.
By Anora Mahmudova and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch