Stocks open strongly, led by financial shares

U.S. stock benchmarks on Friday opened with solid gains, led by a rally for financials stocks, after some of the nation‘s biggest banks were granted a regulatory blessing by the Federal Reserve to return capital to shareholders late Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 180 points, or 0.7%, at 24,395, partly aided by a surge in shares of Nike Inc. up 11%, which reported stronger-than-expected quarterly results and announced a $15 billion stock buyback plan. The S&P 500 index climbed 0.6% at 2,731, with the banking sector, as measured by the exchange traded Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF which comprises JPMorgan Chase & Co. Citigroup Inc. and other large-capitalization bank shares, showing gains of 1.4%. The so-called XLF fund had recently put its longest string of declines ever, leading up to the annual test by the Fed of the banking sector‘s ability to withstand shocks–a stress test that was instituted following the carnage of the 2007-09 financial crisis. The Nasdaq Composite Index meanwhile, rose 0.6% to 7,544. Friday‘s trade closes out trading for the week and for June, but also represents the end of the second quarter and the first half of 2018–a period that has mostly been colored by volatile trade and fears about escalating tariff tensions between the U.S. and its partners in China, Europe and North America. Investors have feared that trade tensions and toughened rhetoric could devolve into a market-disrupting clash.