MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Market Rises Broadly As Attention Turns To Corporate Results

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04/16/2018 | 03:23 pm

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica

Netflix results due after the close

U.S. stocks rose on Monday, with major indexes advancing in a broad rally as strong economic data and corporate earnings moved back into the spotlight.

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What are the main benchmarks doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 200 points, or 0.8%, to 24,565. The S&P 500 added 18 points to 2,674, a rise of 0.7%. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 32 points, or 0.5%, to 7,139.

Gains were broad-based, with all 11 primary S&P 500 sectors higher on the day. Among risers were utilities, telecommunications, industrials, and energy, all of which were up at least 1%. The Cboe Volatility Index fell 3.2% and was on track for its lowest close in about a month .

Last week, the Dow booked a gain of 1.8%, while the S&P rose 2% and the Nasdaq rose 2.8%.

What's driving markets

Geopolitical issues remain in focus after the U.S. joined with France and Britain to launch missiles that destroyed much of Syria's chemical-weapons capabilities on Saturday. The strikes left much of President Bashar al-Assad's conventional military facilities intact, which may ease fears of an escalation in tensions with Russia, a backer of Syria's regime.

Corporate earnings are likely to be more important for investors, however. A number of bellwether names, including Netflix and General Electric, are scheduled to report in the coming days, joining Bank of America, which reported early Monday.

According to FactSet, earnings for companies in the S&P 500 are expected to grow 17.3% in the first quarter , while sales grow 10%. For both, such rates would represent the fastest pace of growth since the first quarter of 2011.

Which stocks are in focus?

Bank of America dipped 0.6% beating profit and revenue expectations . The results follow JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Citigroup Inc. (C) and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), all of which lost ground Friday even after posting earnings that were either in line with forecasts or better than expected. Some say that could be due to concerns that earnings growth has peaked .

The financial sector rose 0.6% on Monday.

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Merck & Co.(MRK) gained 2.4% after it released late-stage results showing that a cancer drug combination using its Keytruda reduced patients' risk of death by half, a significant improvement. The stock was one of the biggest boosts to the Dow .

U.S.-listed shares of WPP fell 5.4% after Chief Executive Officer Martin Sorrell resigned over a probe into an allegation of personal misconduct .

Icahn Enterprises L.P.(IEP) rose 0.8% after announcing its majority-owned Tropicana Entertainment Inc. had entered a deal to sell its real estate to Gaming and Leisure Properties for $1.85 billion. It will also merge its gaming and hotel business into Eldorado Resorts. Shares of Eldorado jumped 6% in premarket trading.

Alkermes PLC jumped 6% after the Food and Drug Administration accepted the biopharmaceutical firm's new drug application for its treatment for depression.

MoviePass majority owner Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc.(HMNY) rallied 7% in premarket trading, extending a gain that started after Verizon Communicationsdisclosed a large equity stake in the company .

Navistar International Corp rose 9% after Volkswagen AG's commercial-vehicles business said it is considering increasing its stake in the U.S. truck company to more than 17%.

NewLink Genetics Corp tumbled 14% after the company said it won't proceed as planned with a late-stage trial of its indoximod drug for advanced melanoma.

What are analysts saying?

"With trade headlines dying down, for now, the market still closer to the lower end of our target valuation range, and likely continued earnings momentum ahead, we remain tactically bullish," wrote Michael Wilson, chief U.S. equity strategist at Morgan Stanley. "We think first-quarter earnings season should deliver on high expectations and help the market move higher toward a cyclical top in equities we expect to occur later this year."

What is on the economic docket?

Sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.6% in March to end a streak of three straight declines, the Commerce Department reported Monday, underscoring the improved financial picture of American households and the resiliency of an economic expansion that could turn out to be the longest ever.

Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic will kick off a busy week for Fed appearances on Monday as he's expected to speak on the economy and rural market trends to the Shoals Chamber of Commerce in Florence, Ala., at 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published Monday, said he expects inflation will soon hit the central bank's 2% target, making it easier to push on with interest-rate hiking plans.

What are other markets doing?

Asian markets surrendered much of an early lead , led by falls for China and Hong Kong. European stocks edged lower.

U.S.-listed VanEck Vectors Russia ETF (RSX) dropped 1.3% in premarket, tracking a 0.4% drop in the Russia RTS index ahead of possible U.S. sanctions. The ruble was rising against the dollar, which bought 61.83 rubles, down from Friday's 62.35.

Gold futures inched lower , while the ICE U.S. Dollar Index lost ground . Oil prices pulled back as Syria worries eased somewhat and investors cashed in on some of last week's big gains.

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