Business

Stocks rally as banks. industrial companies gain

Stocks climbed Thursday as industrial companies, banks, technology and materials firms, and energy companies all rallied. A strong day of corporate results left investors feeling better about the economy.

For more than a week investors have been poring over company earnings for signs the economy is growing faster, and on Thursday they felt they had found them. Railroad operator CSX gave transportation companies a big boost, while Sherwin-Williams raised its annual projections and helped basic materials makers go higher.

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It’s still early in this round of earnings reports, and a few high-profile companies have disappointed Wall Street this week, so stocks have wobbled. But for the most part investors are encouraged. They say companies feel good about the economy and expect stronger growth and bigger profits.

‘‘The major takeaway so far to earnings season is the CEOs are still saying we’re poised for growth,’’ said J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. ‘‘Last quarter was sort of the first time we heard this theme.’’

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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index advanced 0.8 percent, to 2,355.84. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.9 percent, to 20,578.81.

The Nasdaq composite gained 0.9 percent, to a record high of 5,916.78. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1.2 percent, to 1,384.15.

American Express had a solid first quarter as its credit card members spent more and kept bigger balances on their cards. The stock gained 5.9 percent. SLM, parent of the student lender Sallie Mae, reported much stronger revenue than expected; its stock climbed 10.1 percent. Citizens Financial rose 3.1 percent after its report.

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‘‘The banks are the shining star’’ so far, Kinahan said, although Goldman Sachs had a down quarter.

CSX announced a bigger profit and more revenue than expected and said restructuring and spending cuts will increase its profit by about 25 percent this year. The company hired Hunter Harrison, former head of Canadian Pacific, as its CEO last month. The stock jumped 5.6 percent.

Sherwin-Williams raised its profit guidance for the year; the stock rose 4 percent.

Verizon fell 1.1 percent as it lost wireless cellphone subscribers and its profit dropped 20 percent. That helped push other telecom companies lower.

Other stocks that pay big dividends also fell. Utilities, companies that make and sell household goods, and real estate investment trusts declined as bond yields rose. That made the stocks less appealing to investors seeking income.

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