NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As bad the news was during the recent five-day losing streak for stocks -- forget QE3 unless the economy stalls, weak jobs growth in March, Spain on the ropes -- that's how good everything seemed today. You had mollifying Federal Reserve officials dropping hints at additional stimulus, a drop in imports that fueled higher hopes for better U.S. GDP growth, speculation that China is primed to report stronger than anticipated economic growth, even a solid rise in worldwide PC shipments that sparked a 7%-plus surge in Dow component Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ). The bulls had so much firepower that the elevated read on initial jobless claims last week never stood a chance. It all added up to a pretty serious swing higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its best day since March 13, and the move since Wednesday represents the strongest two-day performance on both a point and percentage basis since Dec. 21, according to Dow Jones Indexes. Not bad. The S&P 500 jumped right back above its 50-day moving average of around 1370, and the Nasdaq is comfortably above 3000 once again. The smiles will disappear, of course, if China doesn't hold up its end of this bargain, but for now, the bulls can breathe a sigh of relief because Thursday's action, with the major U.S. equity indices finishing just below their highs of the day, showed there was money on the sidelines eager to jump back in and folks were buying right through the all-important final hour. Meantime, Friday is all about the big banks with both JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Wells Fargo ( WFC) reporting their quarterly results. Both stocks have outperformed the broad market this year, rising 30% and 22% respectively, so expectations are elevated. Guggenheim Securities, which upgraded Bank of America ( BAC) on Wednesday, is expecting an average upside surprise of 6% from the 16 large-cap banks it covers, and Wells Fargo is one of its favorite names. "Heightened mortgage banking refinancings, a rebound in investment banking activities, and a favorable impact from improved market valuations on trust and investment fees coupled with lower net charge-offs help to fuel this earnings surprise expectation," the firm said. "We believe WFC and USB ) US Bancorp ( USB)) are positioned to create 15-20% earnings per share growth in 2012. Each have reported favorable earnings surprises in the last five quarters and we have forecasted this trend to extend into 1Q12."
Wall Street is looking for a profit of 73 cents a share in the March-ended period from Wells Fargo on revenue of $20.46 billion, while the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for JPMorgan to post earnings of $1.18 a share on revenue of $24.68 billion. JPMorgan shares look a little more attractive by traditional metrics of forward price-to-earnings multiple and dividend yield. At current levels, JPMorgan's stock has a forward P/E of 8.1X with a yield of 2.8% vs. 9.2X and 2.7% for Wells Fargo. Even though the bank stocks have booked eye-popping gains in 2012, that has to be viewed in the context of how poorly they did last year. Still, like Guggenheim, UBS thinks the group looks to be in pretty good shape and should have some more room to run. "Due to the results of the stress tests in mid-March, the risk-profile visibility has improved for the sector," the firm said on Wednesday. "We believe the increased visibility and generally positive earnings outlook support higher valuations for the group." Also reporting on Friday are Duckwall-ALCO Stores ( DUCK), Infosys Technologies ( INFY), and Shaw Communications ( SJR). The economic calendar features the consumer price index for March at 8:30 a.m. ET and the University of Michigan's gauge of consumer sentiment for April at 9:55 a.m. ET. Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, is expecting the CPI data to show inflation remains in check. The consensus is for a headline increase of 0.3%, down from 0.4% the previous month, and the core number, excluding food and energy, to rise 0.2% from 0.1% in February. Shepherdson is in line with the consensus. The consumer sentiment estimate, according to Briefing.com, is for a minimal decline to 76.1 from 76.2 in March. Shepherdson sees little change month-to-month as well. "The core story here, we think, is that rising stock prices -- until very recently -- and higher gasoline prices have pulled sentiment in opposite directions, with the net result that expectations are stalling," he wrote. "People's views of the current economy are more driven by the state of the labor market -- specifically in the case of the Michigan survey, by the pace of layoffs -- but we are nervous about the near-term gas hit, so overall we expect the headline sentiment index to be little changed from the 76.2 final March reading."
And finally, Coinstar ( CSTR) and Google ( GOOG) were seeing the most trading interest in Thursday's extended session. Coinstar, the operator of coin-counting machines and the Redbox DVD rental kiosks, gave a dramatic boost to its financial guidance, detailing above-consensus earnings and revenue expectations for both the first quarter and full year. The stock was last quoted at $69.60, up 13.5%, on volume of nearly 850,000, according to Nasdaq.com. It was a bit more difficult to parse how the market feels about Google. The company beat Wall Street's expectation for its bottom line by 4%, a marked improvement from its surprising miss last quarter, and announced a convoluted stock dividend plan that it said essentially amounts to a two-for-one share split. But the internals of the report showed some holes -- average cost-per-click was down 6% on a sequential basis and 12% year-over-year -- and the stock couldn't muster much of a gain in late trades, rising just 0.4% to $653.57; although it did enjoy a 2.4% rise in the regular session. Adobe Systems ( ADBE) should also be a focus stock on Friday after the company, whose shares are up nearly 17% so far in 2012, announced plans to buy back up to $2 billion worth of its stock by the end of fiscal 2015. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Michael Baron.