Wall Street gains on earnings optimism, waning Syria jitters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday as investors anticipated a strong earnings season and as U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that a military strike on Syria may not be imminent ratcheted down geopolitical worries.

The S&P 500 has now recouped nearly all its losses from earlier this year.

Trump said in a tweet on Thursday that a possible attack on Syria could occur “very soon or not so soon at all,” easing fears of confrontation with Russia.

That lifted U.S. Treasury yields US10YT=RR, leading to a 1.8 percent increase in financial stocks .SPSY, which had the biggest percentage advance among the S&P's 11 major sectors.

The technology sector .SPLRCT rose 1.3 percent, adding the most gains to the S&P.

“We’re hearing less talk of firing missiles and less talk of trade war,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director of institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee. “Earnings are coming up and expectations are high.”

Strong quarterly results from BlackRock Inc BLK.N and Delta Air Lines Inc DAL.N added to the sanguine mood.

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Delta topped profit estimates, sending its shares 2.9 percent higher and boosting other airline stocks.

BlackRock gained 1.5 percent after the asset manager’s quarterly profit rose more than expected.

The earnings season begins in earnest on Friday with reports from JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N, Citigroup Inc C.N and Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N.

Analysts expect quarterly profit for S&P 500 companies to rise 18.4 percent from a year ago, in what would be the biggest gain in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“People are looking forward to earnings season,” said Tracie McMillion, head of global asset allocation strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “Market participants are not wanting to miss out if (earnings are) as good as the forecasts say they will be.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 293.6 points, or 1.21 percent, to 24,483.05, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 21.8 points, or 0.83 percent, to 2,663.99, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 71.22 points, or 1.01 percent, to 7,140.25.

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Investor sentiment was also boosted by the weekly U.S. initial jobless claims report, which pointed to sustained labor market strength.

Facebook Inc FB.O was a notable laggard among technology stocks, falling 1.5 percent following a 5.3 percent gain over the past two days when Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress on the social network's data security.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc BBBY.O shares dived 20.0 percent after the company's full-year profit forecast missed estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a 1.20-to-1 ratio and on the Nasdaq, for a 1.84-to-1 ratio.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.12 billion shares, compared to the 7.27 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru and Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler