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JPMorgan, Wells Fargo up on upbeat Q2 profits
UnitedHealth gains on Q2 earnings beat
Indexes up: Dow 0.41%, S&P 0.24%, Nasdaq 0.31%
(Updated at 09:45 a.m. ET/1345 GMT)
By Johann M Cherian and Bansari Mayur Kamdar
July 14 (Reuters) -
Wall Street rose for the fifth straight day on Friday after some of the country's top lenders and insurer UnitedHealth Group kicked-off the second-quarter earnings season on a strong note.
JPMorgan Chase gained 2.4% after the largest U.S. lender posted a 67% jump in profit as it earned more from borrowers' interest payments and benefited from the purchase of First Republic Bank, while Wells Fargo rose 2.7% after reporting a 57% rise in quarterly profit.
The S&P 500 banks index added 1.6% in early trading, outperforming the benchmark index.
"We heard a lot of banks talk about the stresses in the system earlier this year," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives, Charles Schwab.
"But clearly, higher rates have allowed them to widen the gap between what they pay and what they charge and it's been reflected in earnings."
Citigroup was subdued after the lender's quarterly profit tumbled 36% as weakness in the bank's trading business blunted gains from its personal banking and wealth management unit.
Leading gains on the Dow, UnitedHealth Group jumped 4.9% after the health insurer reported a quarterly profit above analysts' estimates, as the industry bellwether's expenses came in lower than feared.
Rivals Humana, Cigna and CVS Health rose between 1.0% and 2.4%.
BlackRock eased 2% after the world's largest asset manager posted a 1.4% decline in quarterly revenue, hit by the impact of market movements over the past 12 months on its average AUM.
Overall, earnings for the S&P 500 constituents are seen dropping 6.4% in the second quarter, according to Refinitiv data released at the start of the earnings season.
At 09:45 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 142.48 points, or 0.41%, at 34,537.62, the S&P 500 was up 10.76 points, or 0.24%, at 4,520.80, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 43.76 points, or 0.31%, at 14,182.33.
U.S. stocks are on course for robust weekly gains, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq set for its best week since mid-March.
The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 ended the last two sessions at over one-year highs after data signaled easing price pressures in the United States, adding to hopes that the Federal Reserve could wind up its rate-hiking cycle soon after delivering a widely expected 25 basis point rate increase in July.
Among megacaps, Microsoft gained 1.2% after brokerage UBS turned bullish on the tech giant, with a "buy" rating, while chipmaker Nvidia hit a fresh record high.
Activision Blizzard added 1.3% as the gaming firm and Microsoft are considering giving up some control of their cloud-gaming business in the UK to appease regulators, according to a report.
AT&T shed 3.4% after J.P. Morgan downgraded its rating on the telecom firm to "neutral".
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.83-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.39-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 54 new highs and 16 new lows.
(Reporting by Johann M Cherian and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sriraj Kalluvila and Maju Samuel)