US STOCKS-Gains in Walt Disney, bank shares bolster Wall Street

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* JPM kicks off earnings on a high note, boost bank stocks

* Anadarko tops gains on S&P after Chevron's$33 bln deal

* Indexes up: Dow 0.89%, S&P 0.55%, Nasdaq 0.33% (Updates to early afternoon)

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar

April 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday, lifting theS&P 500 above the 2,900 mark for the first time since earlyOctober, boosted by gains in Walt Disney shares and as bankstocks surged after strong results from JPMorgan.

Shares of the largest U.S. bank by assets JPM.N rose 4.8%after the company beat quarterly profit estimates, easing fearsthat slowing economic growth could weigh on its results. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N21S2W7

The S&P financial index .SPSY rose 1.74%, providing thebiggest boost to the main index, while the S&P banks index .SPXBK gained 2.26%.

Stocks have been in a holding pattern ahead of thefirst-quarter earnings season, which many analysts say could bethe first quarterly drop in S&P 500 profit since 2016.

Shares of Wells Fargo & CoWFC.N fell 2.7% after thelender cut its forecast for 2019 net interest income, while PNCFinancial Services Group IncPNC.N rose 2.9% after itsfirst-quarter profit met estimates. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N21U36Ourn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N21U2UC

"Expectations for this earnings cycle have been subdued, butafter results from these big financials it shows that thingshave started off really well. So one has to wonder maybe theexpectations were too low to begin with. But so far, so good,"said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa FinancialIntelligence in Zephyr Cove, Nevada.

Walt Disney CoDIS.N shares hit a record high after thecompany priced its streaming service in a bid to challenge thedigital dominance of Netflix IncNFLX.O . A 9.7% jump in Disneyboosted the communication services sector .SPLRCL by about 1%.Netflix was down 3.8%. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N21T0OW

At 12:53 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI wasup 232.89 points, or 0.89%, at 26,375.94, the S&P 500 .SPX wasup 15.75 points, or 0.55%, at 2,904.07 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 26.29 points, or 0.33%, at 7,973.65.

Analysts project earnings growth at S&P 500 companies todecline 2.3 percent in the first quarter as the impact of taxcuts fade and worries about global growth come to the fore. Bankearnings are expected to grow 3%, according to Refinitiv data.

However, investors are hoping that the earnings season willbe better than feared, helping the U.S. indexes reach all-timehighs. The S&P 500 is just 1.3% away from a record high hit inSeptember.

The S&P 500 total return index .SPXT hit a record high onFriday, underscoring the importance of reinvesting dividends.

A $33 billion deal in the energy sector helped oil and gasstocks. Anadarko Petroleum CorpAPC.N jumped 32.6%, toppinggains on the S&P 500, after Chevron CorpCVX.N said it wouldbuy the company in a cash-and-stock deal. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL3N21U2PR

The S&P energy index .SPNY was up about 0.44%, with peersDevon Energy CorpDVN.N , EOG Resources IncEOG.N and PioneerNatural Resources Co PXD.N gaining between 3% and 11%.

The healthcare sector .SPXHC fell 0.62%, led by declinesin health insurers UnitedHealth GroupUNH.N and Anthem IncANTM.N . Analysts pointed to negative news throughout the weekconcerning potential regulatory changes to how the healthcareindustry works.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.87-to-1 ratioon the NYSE and by a 1.38-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 46 new 52-week highs and two newlows, while the Nasdaq recorded 73 new highs and 30 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru;Editing by Anil D'Silva) ((Shreyashi.Sanyal@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 8780 ;Reuters Messaging:Shreyashi.Sanyal.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

This article appears in: Banking and Loans , World Markets , US Markets , Oil , Stocks
Referenced Symbols: ANTM ,

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