Thursday 6.23.16 4pm EST
U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday as pound sterling held near year-to-date highs against the greenback, following increased expectations that the U.K. will vote to remain in the European Union.
Stocks neared session highs with about 10 minutes to the close.
The Dow Jones industrial average added more than 200 points.Goldman Sachs rose more than 2.5 percent for the greatest positive impact on the index as almost all constituents advanced The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to release the first results from the annual bank stress tests after the close.
Financials, which are also sensitive to the results of the EU referendum, rose more than 1.5 percent to lead most S&P 500 sectors higher. TheBank (KBE) and Regional Bank (KRE) ETFs traded more than 2.5 percent higher, on pace for their best day in about a month.
The S&P 500 attempted to hold above the psychologically key 2,100 level and was trading about 1.5 percent below its all-time intraday high hit in May 2015.
Britons are voting Thursday on whether to leave the European Union. Polls are set to close at 5 p.m. ET and the highly anticipated results are expected well after Thursday’s U.S. market close.
“I think the market’s already voted. … It looks like they’re looking for the stay vote to prevail,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Capital.
“This could be a classic case of ‘buy the rumor, sell the fact,'” he said.
The pound traded near $1.480 after earlier hitting $1.4946 against the dollar, its highest since late December. The U.S. dollar index traded about 0.24 percent lower, with the euro near $1.135 after earlier hitting its highest in more than a month. The yen was near 105.8 yen versus the greenback, near its highest in a week.
The Dow transports traded more than 1 percent higher, while the Russell 2000 outperformed with gains of more than 1.5 percent
As of midday trade Thursday, the three major U.S. stock indexes traded more than 1 percent higher and were on pace for weekly gains of more than 1.5 percent. Traders also attributed some of the gains to short covering.
European stocks closed higher, with the German DAX up more than 1.5 percent for its first five-day win streak since late May. The STOXX Europe 600 about 1.5 percent higher.
The STOXX 600 Europe Banks index gained more than 2.5 percent for its first five-day win streak since April. The index is tracking for its best week since late 2011.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 closed more than 1 percent higher while the Shanghai composite closed about half a percent lower.
U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday, as declines in energy stocks weighed, and investors remained on edge ahead of the Brexit vote after a poll indicated a slight edge for leave over remain. Separate polls released after the close indicated more support for remain.
“Since we had a fairly low conviction as to how the vote would go, we were reluctant to make a bet in a general direction,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.
In economic news, weekly jobless claims fell to 259,000, not far from a 43-year low touched in March.
The flash Markit manufacturing PMI for June was 51.4, up from 50.7 in May.
New home sales declined 6.0 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 551,000 units.
The S&P 500 gained 19 points, or 0.92 percent, to 2,104, with financials leading nine sectors higher and utilities the only decliner.
The Nasdaq composite gained 55 points, or 1.14 percent, to 4,888.
About five stocks advanced for every decliner on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 435 million and a composite volume of nearly 2.1 billion in afternoon trade.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded lower near 18.6.
U.S. crude oil futures for August delivery settled up 98 cents, or 1.99 percent, at $50.11 a barrel.
Gold futures for August settled down $6.90 at $1,263.10 an ounce.
On tap this week:
Earnings: Commercial Metals, Sonic
Earnings: Finish Line
8:30 a.m. Durable goods
10 a.m. Consumer sentiment
*Planner subject to change.