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Dow rallies more than 300 points as banks post best day since late March

CNBC logo CNBC 7/9/2018 Fred Imbert and Alexandra Gibbs

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Stocks closed sharply higher on Monday as bank shares rose, while concerns over a trade war between the U.S. and key partners dissipated for the moment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 320.11 points to 24,776.59, with J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Caterpillar as the best-performing stocks in the index. The S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent and closed at 2,784.17, as financials climbed 2.3 percent. The Nasdaq composite also advanced 0.9 percent to 7,756.20 as Amazon, Netflix and Apple all rose at least 1 percent.

Bank stocks rose at least 2.5 percent, led by Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase. The SPDR S&P Bank ETF (KBE) rose 2.3 percent and posted its best day since March 26, when it gained 3.3 percent.

Equities also got a boost from a positive jobs report released on Friday, which revealed that the U.S. economy added 213,000 jobs in June, beating expectations. The report helped divert attention away from the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and its biggest partners.

“The market can surprise you with what it’s focused on,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR. “Now we’re focused back on fundamentals.”

“If you can take focus away from the trade war, that’s a good thing,” Hogan said.

Last week, the U.S. slapped tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods. China responded to the tariffs by imposing its own retaliatory levies on imports from the States.

Trade-war fears have been simmering for months, keeping market gains in check as investors fret over the impact of tariffs on corporate profits.

Wall Street looked ahead to the start of the corporate earnings season, with Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo all scheduled to release their results from the previous quarter. S&P 500 earnings for the second quarter are expected to have grown 20 percent, according to a FactSet estimate.

"The fact that we're heading into the earnings season is a catalyst for stocks," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. "We're expecting it to be strong and maybe even stronger than the previous one."

European stocks rose after United Kingdom Brexit Secretary David Davis and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resigned. News of the two high-profile departures came quickly after Prime Minister Theresa May secured parliamentary support for a plan to maintain close trade and regulatory ties with the European Union.

The Stoxx 600 index, which tracks a broad swath of European equities, gained more than half a percent.

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