U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average leaping more than 100 points, as the industrial sector drove the market higher, led by an 11 percent gain from multinational conglomerate General Electric Company. Market professionals are preparing for a series of earnings reports next week from the financial sector, including banking giants JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI), which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, soared 98.92 points, or 0.55 percent, to close at 18,057.65. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) added 10.88 points, or 0.52 percent, to end at 2,102.06. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) gained 21.41 points, or 0.43 percent, to finish at 4,995.98.
For the year, the Dow has added more than 240 points, or 1.35 percent, and the S&P 500 index has risen more than 43 points, or 2.1 percent. The Nasdaq has gained 260 points, or 5 percent.
The S&P 500 edged higher Friday, driven by a 1.5 percent gain from the industrial sector Friday after shares of General Electric (NYSE:GE) rallied more than 11 percent Friday to close at $28.51. GE hit an intraday high of more than $28 a share, its highest level since December 2013.
The company announced a major restructuring of GE Capital by exiting the financial services business. The move will include the sale of most of the unit's assets, and GE will institute a $50 billion stock buyback program with proceeds from the move.
Separately, shares of tech giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) closed flat Friday, edging up 0.4 percent to end at $127.10 after the iPhone maker began taking pre-orders of its Apple Watch.
Oil prices closed higher Friday as West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, rose 1.7 percent to $51.64 a barrel, for May 15 delivery, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, added $1.25 to $59 a barrel, for May 15 delivery, on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Economists are looking ahead to banking earnings next week, with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Company reporting quarterly results Tuesday, followed by Bank of America Corporation on Wednesday and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Thursday.
Analysts will also be eyeing U.S. retail sales for March, released Tuesday, along with the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, published Wednesday. The central bank publishes it eight times a year, highlighting the current condition of the U.S. economy within the Fed's 12 districts. Meanwhile, the consumer price index, which measures the average prices of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food and medical care, is issued Friday.