As stocks climb, investors see signs of faster growth

NEW YORK - U.S. 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 through company earnings for signs the economy is growing at a faster pace, and on Thursday they thought they found it. Railroad operator CSX gave transportation companies, such as railroads and airlines, a big boost while Sherwin-Williams raised its annual projections and helped basic materials makers go higher.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 17.67 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,355.84. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 174.22 points, or 0.9 percent, to 20,578.71.

The Nasdaq composite gained 53.74 points, or 0.9 percent, to an all-time high of 5,916.78. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 17.02 points, or 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 $4.47, or 5.9 percent, to $80.02. SLM, the parent of the student lender Sallie Mae, reported much stronger revenue than expected and its stock climbed $1.17, or 10.1 percent, to $12.70. Citizens Financial rose $1.05, or 3.1 percent, to $35.27 after its report.

Railroad company CSX announced a bigger profit and more revenue than Wall Street expected in the first quarter. CSX also said restructuring and spending cuts will increase its profit by about 25 percent this year. The company is cutting jobs and reorganizing after it hired Hunter Harrison, former head of Canadian Pacific, as its new CEO last month. The company also said it will buy back more stock and raise its dividend. CSX stock jumped $2.65, or 5.6 percent, to $49.58.

Railroads and transportation companies, such as trucking companies and airlines, rose. Industrial companies were among the top performers Thursday.

Sherwin-Williams raised its profit guidance for the year as paint sales jumped and prices increased. The stock added $12.48, or 4 percent, to $324.02. That helped basic materials companies. So did steel maker Nucor, which rose $2.73, or 4.7 percent, to $60.35 after its first-quarter results were stronger than expected.

Verizon dipped 53 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.41 as it lost wireless cellphone subscribers and its profit dropped 20 percent. That helped push other telecom companies lower.

Bond prices fell further. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.23 percent from 2.22 percent.

Energy prices wobbled and finished lower. Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 17 cents to $50.27 a barrel in New York while Brent crude, the international standard, rose 6 cents to $52.99 a barrel. However, energy companies climbed higher. They stumbled Wednesday as the price of U.S. crude sank 3.8 percent.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.67 a gallon. Heating oil was flat at $1.58 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents to $3.16 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 40 cents to $1,283.80 an ounce. Silver lost 14 cents to $18.02 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.54 a pound.

The dollar rose to 109.31 yen from 108.70 yen. The euro inched up to $1.0722 from $1.0721.

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