Stocks rose to record highs Thursday after Morgan Stanley reported quarterly figures that easily topped analyst expectations, while investors cheered solid data on the U.S. economy.
The Dow gained 150 points. The S&P 500 climbed 0.5% and broke above 3,300 for the first time. The Nasdaq advanced 0.7%.
Morgan Stanley’s three main businesses — investment management, wealth management and trading — all produced more revenue than expected in the previous quarter. The company’s stock jumped 7%.
So far, the earnings season is off to a solid start. Around 7% of S&P 500 companies have reported earnings thus far, according to FactSet data. Of those companies, 76.5% have posted better-than-expected expectations.
Expectations about the earnings season were muted prior to this week. Analysts expected S&P 500 earnings to have fallen by 2% in the fourth quarter, FactSet data showed.
Strong economic data also lifted sentiment on Wall Street. Weekly jobless claims unexpectedly dropped by 10,000 to 204,000. Economists polled by Reuters expected a print of 216,000. Meanwhile, retail sales climbed by 0.3% in December, matching expectations.
Stocks closed well off their session highs on Wednesday after President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed a “phase one” trade deal in Washington, D.C. Under the agreement, China is set to buy an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods over the next two years.
As a result of the deal, U.S. exports to China should in theory rise to $263 billion in 2020 and $309 billion in 2021, CNBC reported. Both figures would represent a record-breaking acceleration of U.S. exports to China.
That said, China’s other suppliers of agricultural commodities will not be impacted by the Sino-U.S. trade deal since buying will be based on market principles, Vice Premier Liu He said, according to a report from state-owned CCTV on Thursday.
“Phase one is behind us and it met market expectations,” said Tom Essaye, the founder of The Sevens Report, in a note. “Now the very real question of whether phase one results in an uptick in economic growth lies in front of us, and the truth is it’s unclear. Nothing in phase one will specifically add much to global growth.”
CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.