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U.S Markets Edged Higher with Rising Hope of Economic Recovery

Wall Street surged on Thursday as investors weighed the prospect of economic recovery against bellicose remarks from President Donald Trump regarding U.S.-China trade and a whistle-blower’s dire warnings about the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While all three major U.S. stock indexes ended the session solidly higher, they see-sawed for much of the day, with reopening state economies and the possibility of additional stimulus doing battle with revived trade war fears and bleak economic data.

Comments by Trump late Wednesday blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak and revived trade war fears, even as mandated lock-downs continue to damage the economy.

That damage was in evidence in a report from the U.S. Labor Department, which showed just under 3 million new jobless claims last week, pushing the seven-week tally well over 36 million.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 377.37 points, or 1.62%, to 23,625.34, the S&P 500 gained 32.5 points, or 1.15%, to 2,852.5 and the Nasdaq Composite added 80.55 points, or 0.91%, to 8,943.72.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but consumer staples closed higher, with financials and energy companies enjoying the biggest percentage gains.

First-quarter earnings season is on the final stretch, with 451 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 66.7% have beaten consensus, according to data released by Refinitiv.

In aggregate, earnings for the first three months of the year are seen falling by 12.1% from the year-ago quarter, a stark reversal from the 6.3% annual growth seen on Jan. 1.

Cisco Systems Inc closed up 4.5% after its earnings beat, driven by a jump in demand for its work-from-home networking equipment.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.20-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.03-to-1 ratio favored decliners. The S&P 500 posted four new 52-week highs and 16 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 23 new highs and 117 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.81 billion shares, compared with the 11.45 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.