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Stocks close sharply higher amid big blowout earnings

CNBC logo CNBC 4/26/2018 Fred Imbert and Alexandra Gibbs
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Stocks ended sharply higher Thursday, helped by strong quarterly results from some of the biggest U.S. companies.

The Dow closed 238 points higher, with Visa as the best-performing stock in the index. The S&P 500 added more than 1 percent as tech rose. The Nasdaq gained 1.6 percent.

Facebook shares surged more than 9 percent after the company posted better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the first quarter. The company's number of daily active users pointed to steady engagement in the platform despite backlash from the Cambridge Analytica debacle.

Advanced Micro Devices also posted earnings that topped expectations, sending its stock up about 13 percent.

Chipotle, meanwhile, soared more than 24 percent on a stronger-than-expected profit boosted same-store sales that easily topped expectations.

"There are two things driving the market: Earnings and the news flow out of Washington," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. He noted that earnings may be currently overshadowing the news out of DC.

"The earnings reports have been good thus far," Frederick said. "I see no reason why that wouldn't continue."

Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported thus far, 81 percent have reported better-than-expected earnings, according to FactSet.

Stocks also got a boost as interest rates slipped from multiyear highs. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell from a more than four-year high to below 3 percent after the European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged and reaffirmed its stimulative monetary policy stance.

ECB President Mario Draghi said "underlying strength" in the euro zone's economy continued to underpin the bank's confidence despite signs of "moderation" in recent weeks.

He added an "ample degree of monetary stimulus" remained necessary over the coming months.

In economic news, U.S. durable goods orders rose 2.6 percent in March, far more than the expected 1.6 percent gain. Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims totaled 209,000 last week, below a forecast of 230,000.

CNBC's Sam Meredith contributed to this report.

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