US Stocks Solidly Higher Friday

(AP) -- Stocks were solidly higher Friday, but the market is on track to end this holiday-shortened week mostly unchanged as investors remain in a holding pattern. Investors will turn their attention toward company earnings, which kick off next week.

The S&P 500 index was up 0.7% as of 10 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1% and the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.3%.

Big companies will start reporting their quarterly earnings next week, starting with major banks like JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Analysts expect another strong quarter for Wall Street, due to the improving economy and fewer Americans defaulting on loans compared with earlier in the pandemic.

Banks have been among the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500 this year. The KBW Bank Index of the 24 largest banks is up 26% this year alone, compared to the 16% gain of the S&P 500.

Investors continue to gauge the potential impact from COVID-19 variants, particularly the highly contagious delta variant, as governments in some countries reimpose lockdowns and travel restrictions. The problem has been particularly bad in Asia and Oceania, where countries that largely avoided the earlier outbreaks are now dealing with quickly growing caseloads of their own.

The rising number of coronavirus cases has been one of the reasons why investors have moved back into bonds in recent days. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was at 1.35% but had been as low as 1.29% on Thursday. Bond prices rise when yields fall.

Oil prices continued to march higher, with crude oil briefly touching $75 a barrel overnight. Members of the OPEC oil cartel have yet to come to a consensus on whether to increase oil production or not, which has caused volatility in energy markets the past two weeks.