By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose slightly on Friday, putting the S&P 500 at its highest closing level in more than five months, as gains in industrials and other areas offset a drop in financials after results from three of the big banks mostly disappointed.
Investors were optimistic ahead of what is expected to be a strong second-quarter U.S. earnings season, although reports on Friday from three of the biggest Wall Street banks failed to enthuse.
"In spite of the disappointment from the financials, which have been and continue to be a laggard ... there's still relative strength," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
Earnings "expectations are certainly elevated from where they were a month ago, but if companies do deliver in general, the market as a whole will continue to move higher," he said.
JPMorgan Chase & Co
The CBOE Volatility Index <.VIX> closed at its lowest level since June 15.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 94.52 points, or 0.38 percent, to 25,019.41, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 3.02 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,801.31 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 2.06 points, or 0.03 percent, to 7,825.98.
The S&P 500 posted its highest closing level since Feb. 1. The index is now just 2.5 percent from its Jan. 26 record closing high and up 4.8 percent for the year so far.
Investors are expected to keep a close eye on trade talk between the United States and China. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the United States and China could reopen trade talks if Beijing was willing to make significant changes.
Johnson & Johnson
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.01-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 38 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 93 new highs and 40 new lows.
Trading volume was among the lowest of the year, with about 5.3 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges. That compares with the 6.6 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.
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