Stocks jumped today as the market responded to what has become almost an alien concept in recent weeks: good economic news.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 225 points, or 2.87 percent, in late afternoon trading on the strength of an announcement by Wells Fargo $ Co. that it had seen a profitable first-quarter.
Wall Street's spirits were also bolstered by a drop in jobless claims last week. Claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 654,000, down from a 674,000 the previous week. The news surprised analysts, who had predicted weaker earnings for the bank and rising rates of unemployment.
Another unanticipated development was an announcement by the Bureau of Economic Analysis that the U.S. trade deficit has decreased. Last month, U.S. exports of $126.8 billion and imports of $152.7 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $26.0 billion, down from $36.2 billion in January.
The Dow wasn't the only stock indicator feeling the warm vibes after Wells Fargo announced earnings of $3 billion. Both Standard & Poor's 500 index and the Nasdaq saw gains, rising 3.23 percent and 3.42 percent respectively.
The rest of the banking sector benefited from Well Fargo's coattails, seeing their share prices increase. That even included troubled financial giants Citigroup Inc., which was up 8.5 percent, and Bank of America Corp., which saw an 18.7 percent increase.
The market's strong day had some analysts predicting that the economy was beginning to stabilize.
"It certainly tends to indicate that maybe we've gotten through the worst of the financial debacle in terms of the earnings and the worst fears," Eugene Peroni, senior vice president at Advisors Asset Management, told CBS News.
It's not all positive news. Though jobless figures were better than expected, the total number of Americans receiving unemployment increased to 5.84 million from 5.75 million, the most since 1967.