Stocks solidly higher as investors turn to company earnings | National News

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Stocks were solidly higher Friday, putting the market on track to end this holiday-shortened week with a slight gain. Investors will turn their attention toward company earnings, which kick off next week.

The S&P 500 index was up 1% as of 11:38 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up, 429 points, or 1.3%, to 34,850 and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.8%.

The gains were broad with about 90% of the stocks in the benchmark index rising. Banks and technology companies led the index higher. Utilities were the only sector slipping. Every major index is on track for a slight weekly gain.

Big companies will start reporting their quarterly earnings next week, starting with major banks like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Analysts expect another strong quarter for Wall Street, due to the improving economy and fewer Americans defaulting on loans compared with earlier in the pandemic.

Banks have been among the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500 this year. The KBW Bank Index of the 24 largest banks is up 26% this year alone, compared to the 16% gain of the S&P 500.

Investors continue to gauge the potential impact from COVID-19 variants, particularly the highly contagious delta variant, as governments in some countries reimpose lockdowns and travel restrictions. The problem has been particularly bad in Asia and Oceania, where countries that largely avoided the earlier outbreaks are now dealing with quickly growing caseloads of their own.