A bevy of better-than-expected first quarter results helped U.S. equities and stock exchange traded funds rally Thursday.

The S&P 500 Index, along with related funds including the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV) and Vanguard 500 Index (NYSEArca: VOO), gained 0.9% Thursday.

U.S. equities gained momentum on a number of strong first quarter earnings announcements. For instance, American Express (NYSE: AXP) revealed a smaller decline in profits than expected, indicating the credit card company was recovering from the loss of key partnerships last year.

Citizens Financial Group (NYSE: CFG) reported record first-quarter net income before the opening bell.

CSX Corp (NYSE: CSX) also led industrial stock gains after beating Wall Street forecasts on earnings.

“As we see a steady stream of earnings, on balance the season has been better and that’s helping the market today,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, told Reuters.

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