The S&P 500 index is now less than 2% away from its all-time high hit in September, helped by the Federal Reserve's patient stance on raising interest rates and signs of progress in the U.S.
The Nasdaq and the Dow are both about 1.5 per cent below their previous record highs.
Wall Street stocks finished a middling week on a positive note on Friday (April 12), rallying behind solid earnings from JPMorgan Chase and Chevron's acquisition of Anadarko.
Walt Disney closed 11.54% higher after announcing a streaming service aimed at rivalling Netflix, whose shares fell 4.49% on Friday. Disney will be going head-to-head with Netflix, which declined.
The market was coming off a wobbly week as investors anxious the early first-quarter earnings reports would come in even weaker than the low expectations analysts already have.
Meanwhile, new loans and lending jumped higher in March, with M2 money supply up 8.6% on the year versus expectations for an 8.2% increase, and new loans coming in at 1.69 trillion yuan compared to expectations of 1.25 trillion.
"In general, you need to have the financial companies participate in order for a market advance to continue", Stovall said. "Investors will be waiting, listening for other news that would be beneficial not only to banks, but to industrial and technology stocks".
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.03% at 26,412.30, while the S&P 500 moved 0.66% firmer to 2,907.41 and the Nasdaq closed 0.46% stronger at 7,984.16.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 1%, 269 points higher, to close at 26,412.3. The average is still down slightly for the week. The Nasdaq rose 36 points, or 0.5%, to 7,984.
At the small-cap level, the Russell 2000 ticked up 4 points to 1,583, and the S&P Smallcap 600 gained 0.3% to 969.1.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose to 2.56 percent from 2.50 percent late Thursday.
European stock markets were also all stronger at the close, with many banking stocks getting a lift from their United States counterparts. Health care stocks lagged.
However, of the 29 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported thus far, 79.3 per cent have come in above analyst expectations. Analysts pointed to negative news throughout the week concerning potential regulatory changes to how the healthcare industry works.
Data from China showed exports rebounded in March but imports shrank for a fourth straight month and at a sharper pace.
"It wasn't as bad as people had expected it might be", he said. "It's a bellwether for other corporate earnings". Citigroup, UnitedHealth Group and Johnson & Johnson are among the larger companies releasing results next week. The S&P 500 Healthcare index slipped 1.0 per cent. The expected drop in profits is nearly entirely because of weaker profit margins.
Traders were encouraged Friday by JPMorgan's quarterly report card.
MAKING BANK: JPMorgan Chase rose 4.1% after reporting solid profits in the first quarter.
Wells Fargo initially rose after its results beat analysts' forecasts, but it turned lower in midmorning trading and was down 2.8%. The stock fell 2.6 percent.
Both reports show that higher interest rates during the quarter drove increases in revenue.
The Russell 2000 added 2.24 points, or 0.1%.
Disney Plus video is scheduled to roll out on November 12 at $6.99 per month. Disney, which gained 11% after revealing details about its new streaming service Disney+, was more than enough to right the ship. It faces challenges as it builds a service to compete with the entrenched streaming leaders, which also include HBO Go and Showtime.
The blue chips were doing just fine despite a drop from Chevron, which fell after announcing a $33 billion deal to acquire Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Anadarko skyrocketed 32.5% higher.
Pioneer Natural Resources jumped 10.81% and Devon Energy climbed 7.5%. Chevron was one of the sector's few decliners, dropping 4.9 percent.
Economists polled by Bloomberg had expected a slight 0.2 percent rise in imports with exports projected to grow 6.5 percent.
The S&P 500 rose 13 points, or 0.5%, to 2,901.