U.S stocks close higher: Dow on track for positive end to the week

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    Investing.com - U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday, as risk-on sentiment returned after a strong batch of corporate earnings and bullish comments on tax reform from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

    The three main U.S. indexes remained on track to end the week in positive territory, as corporate earnings overshadowed geopolitical events and weaker than expected economic data.

    The Labor Department said Thursday, initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 244,000 for the week ended April 15, which was higher than analysts' forecast of 242,000.

    In a separate report, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that the Philly Fed manufacturing index rose to a seasonally adjusted 22.0, from 32.8 in the preceding month.

    American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), led the rally on Wall Street, after the company posted better than expected first quarter earnings after the US closing bell on Wednesday.

    Elsewhere, investors welcomed bullish comments from U.S. Treasury Steve Mnuchin, after he said the Trump administration is 'close' to bringing forward tax reform.

    In other corporate earnings news, American express rival Visa Inc (NYSE:V), reported quarterly earnings and revenue that beat analysts' expectations on Thursday, while shares of Verizon sank 1%, after the wireless carrier posted disappointing first quarter earnings.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.85% higher at 20,578. The S&P 500 added 0.78% and the Nasdaq Composite closed 0.92% higher at 5916.78

    S&P 500 'movers and shakers'

    The top S&P 500 gainers included; Alliance Data Systems Corporation (NYSE:ADS) up 6.9%, and Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE:DGX) up 6.4%, while Navient Cor (NASDAQ:NAVI) added 4.5%.

    United Rentals Inc (NYSE:URI) down 4.9%, Danaher Corporation (NYSE:DHR) down 4.1% and eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) down 3.9%, were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.

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