Stocks ended sharply higher Thursday, lifted by a strong start to earnings season, including largely upbeat results from big banks and a pair of Dow components. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose around 534 points, or 1.6%, to finish near 34,912, according to preliminary figures. Gains for the blue-chip gauge were led by Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., up 7.4%, and UnitedHealth Group Inc., up 4.2%, after reporting results. The S&P 500

advanced advanced around 74 points, or 1.7%, to end near 4,438 , while the Nasdaq Composite

advanced around 252 points, or 1.7%, to close near 14,823. Share of Bank of America

jumped 4.5%, while Morgan Stanley

added 2.5% after beating estimates.

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