Strong results at JP Morgan, benefiting like other financial firms from changes to mark-to-market accounting, drove the stock market higher with the S&P 500 ending 1.6 percent higher at 865.27. Google after the close also beat estimates.
Economic news was mostly downbeat led by a big fall in housing starts which have yet to reflect the improvement underway in home sales. The Philadelphia's Fed manufacturing report showed another month of steep contraction but a little less severe contraction than in prior months. Many fewer individuals applied for first-time jobless claims though the data were skewed by the shortened Easter/Passover week. Continuing claims in the prior week continued to rise and are now over 6 million.
Gold dropped suddenly at mid-morning raising talk of sales by the International Monetary Fund which may be raising cash for G-20 stimulus efforts. Gold fell about $25 to end near $875. Oil remains hypnotized ending little changed just under $50. The effect of very heavy supply in oil is being offset by investment demand. The dollar ended little changed at $1.3178 against the euro. Treasuries were mixed though the yield on the 3-month bill continues to fall, down 1 basis point on the day to 13 basis points and signaling continuing doubts over the banking system.