* BofA, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan up as profit tops estimates
* Financials expected to boost S&P 500 Q4 profit growth
* Indexes up: Dow 0.26 pct, S&P 0.25 pct, Nasdaq 0.40 pct (Updates to open)
By Tanya Agrawal
Jan 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher in morning trading on Friday, boosted by bank stocks after better-then-expected quarterly profits from Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan, which bode well for the rest of the earnings season.
Bank of America jumped 2.1 percent to $23.41, their highest since the financial crisis. JPMorgan surged 2.2 percent at a record high of $88.17 and Wells Fargo gained 3.1 percent to $56.20.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the financial index’s 1.04 percent rise leading the advancers. The KBW Bank index was up 2 percent, set for their best day since Dec. 1.
The combined profit of S&P 500 companies is estimated to have risen 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, largely helped by financial companies, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“There is a lot of optimism regarding the financial sector but any kind of cautious statement from them might cause a bit of a pullback,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“All the changes that are being proposed for the sector is going to take some time, it’s not going to happen right away.”
At 9:37 a.m. ET (1437 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 52.59 points, or 0.26 percent, at 19,943.59.
The S&P 500 was up 5.77 points, or 0.25 percent, at 2,276.21 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 22.46 points, or 0.4 percent, at 5,569.95.
U.S. stocks overall have been on the rise since the election on optimism that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s policies to boost infrastructure spending and reform corporate taxes will benefit the economy.
The S&P financial sector has jumped about 17 percent since the election, outpacing the S&P 500’s 6.1 percent rise, boosted by hopes of deregulation and increased interest rates.
But, analysts fear the market has run too far too soon, with Trump’s policies expected to hit legislature hurdles, and with stock valuations stretched.
Blackrock Chief Executive Larry Fink told CNBC that if the roll out of growth initiatives by Trump are slower, then the markets are ahead of themselves.
Shares of the world’s largest asset manager were up 1.7 percent at $384.56 after the company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.
U.S. retail sales rose solidly in December amid strong demand for automobiles, with data showing retail sales increased 0.6 percent last month, slightly below the 0.7 percent increase expected by economists.
A separate report at 10 a.m. ET is expected to show U.S. consumer sentiment improved to 98.5 in January from 98.2.
Pandora Media was up 8.2 percent at $12.98 after the online radio service said it would reduce its U.S. workforce and that it expects to surpass its fourth-quarter revenue forecast.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,769 to 810. On the Nasdaq, 1,722 issues rose and 544 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 15 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 46 new highs and four new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)