Stocks struggled for direction after earnings from three big U.S. banks kicked off the quarterly reporting season. 

The S&P 500 rose 0.02%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.03% and the Nasdaq rose 0.2%. Stocks had opened the session lower. The financial and technology sectors were higher Thursday while utilities and energy dragged on the markets. Of note, Chevron (CVX - Get Report) was down more than 1%. 

JPMorgan Chase ( JPM - Get Report) reported first-quarter earnings of $1.65 a share on revenue of $25.59 billion, beating analysts' expectations. A year earlier, the bank earned $1.35 a share on revenue of $24.08.

Shares of JPMorgan were up 1.1%. 

Citigroup (C - Get Report) earned $1.35 a share in the first quarter, topping forecasts of $1.23. The stock rose 1.5%. Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) earned $1 a share in the first quarter, beating estimates by 4 cents. Shares fell 1.2% after falling earlier. 

"JPMorgan Chase's results show positive momentum for investment banking and capital markets earnings on back of solid debt and equity underwriting and strong fixed income trading revenues," Ana Arsov, Moody's Investors Service associate managing director, wrote in a note. "This may indicate a return back to the banks usual positive Q1 cyclicality. However, the direction of tides is unclear on a variety of economic, geopolitical and policy issues on the horizon."

Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) and Goldman Sachs (GS - Get Report) will report next Tuesday, while Morgan Stanley (MS - Get Report) will report Wednesday.

Citigroup and Wells Fargo are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells C or WFC? Learn more now.

"Financials should report the highest growth in earnings of all sectors, at 14.3%, on rising interest rates and capital markets," Brad McMillan, Commonwealth Financial Network's chief investment officer, wrote in a note. "Accelerating earnings growth is a very positive trend." 
 
FactSet estimates that earnings will grow at 8.9% in the first quarter, which would be the "fastest growth in earnings on a year-on-year basis since the end of 2013, and well above what we have seen in the past two quarters," McMillan said.
 
Consumer sentiment in the U.S. for April rose to 98 from 96.9 in the previous month, according to the University of Michigan.
 
Donald Trump,  in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday, said the dollar was getting "too strong" and that he wouldn't declare China a currency manipulator. The dollar dropped shortly after Trump's comments were published but has since stabilized. Trump blamed the strong dollar on himself, saying it's his fault "because people have confidence in me."
 
The U.S. Dollar Index rebounded to trade up 0.21% to 100.39 on Thursday. 
 
Crude oil rose 0.3% to $53.27 a barrel, following declines the previous day after the Energy Information Administration's weekly status report showed that U.S. crude oil inventories declined by 2.2 million barrels last week, and OPEC said in its monthly oil report that production decreased by 153,000 barrels a day.

United Airlines (UAL - Get Report)  shares were up slightly on Thursday after the company said it would offer compensation to all passengers on the flight where a passenger was violently dragged off a United plane for not voluntarily giving up his seat. 

United shares fell 0.06% Thursday.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A - Get Report) reduced its holdings in Wells Fargo, the company said Wednesday in a regulatory filing. Warren Buffett's company said it sold more than 7 million shares of the bank, which kept its ownership stake below 10%. The company said "in the near future" it would sell another 1.87 million shares. Shares of Berkshire fell 0.2%. 
 
PNC Bank ( PNC - Get Report) shares were up 2.4% after the bank reported earnings of $1.96 a share on revenue of $3.88 billion, beating quarterly estimates. 
 
Applied Optoelectronics ( AAOI - Get Report)  jumped 13% after pre-announcing that first-quarter earnings will be as high as $1.02 a share, up from prior guidance of 80 cents to 88 cents a share. 
 
Yext (YEXT - Get Report) ,  a New York tech startup focusing on data management, had its trading debut Thursday. The initial public offering was priced at $11 a share. At last check, the stock gained more than 26% to $13.89. 
 
Weekly U.S. jobless claims were 234,000, slightly lower than the previous week. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics's producer price index for March declined 0.1% from the prior month, but wholesale inflation has increased 2.3% from the prior year. This is the first time in seven months that prices received by domestic producers of goods and services declined. 
 
Markets will be closed Friday as Wall Street takes a long Easter weekend.
 
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