Dow, S&P close at record highs as Citigroup kicks off busy earnings week



U.S. stocks continued to rally on Monday, bringing the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 to close at all-time highs for the third consecutive day, as Citigroup released upbeat earnings to start a busy week for corporate earnings.

The Dow rose 19.96 points, or 0.13 percent, to 15,484.26 points. The S&P 500 ticked up 2.31 points, or 0.14 percent, to 1,682.50 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 7.41 points, or 0.21 percent, to 3,607.49 points.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq notched an eight-day winning steak.

Citigroup reported on Monday net income of 4.2 billion U.S. dollars, or 1.34 dollars per diluted share, on revenues of 20.5 billion dollars in the second quarter of 2013. The major U.S. bank reported a net income of 2.9 billion dollars, or 0.95 dollar per diluted share, on revenues of 18.4 billion dollars a year ago. The latest results topped analysts’ estimate of 1.18 dollars a share on revenue of 19.73 billion dollars.

Shares of Citigroup were up 1.99 percent to 51.82 dollars.

Last Friday, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. also reported strong earnings, both beating market consensus.

Earnings from all the six major U.S. banks will come out this week, which are expected to set the tone of the earnings season. Also reporting earnings this week are tech giants including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, IBM and Intel.

Last week, the Dow and the S&P 500 refreshed their record closing highs registered in late May, following Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s dovish speech.

Investors are also keeping a close eye on Bernanke’s testimony to the U.S. Congress scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The U.S. economic data released Monday were lackluster, providing little momentum for the equity market.

The advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for June increased 0.4 percent to 442.8 billion dollars from the previous month, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Monday. The latest figures missed analysts’ estimates of rising 0.8 percent.

“Retail sales cooled in June, though not enough to prevent the year-on-year growth rate in sales from rising to 5.7 percent for the first time since last September. Car sales were up 1.8 percent, the highest since last November. “Excluding cars and gasoline, however, sales fell for the first time since last June and, as a result, headline sales rose half as much as expected,” Mei Li, an economic analyst at FTN Financial, commented in a note on Monday.

Moreover, manufacturing activity in the New York region continued to improve modestly in July, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The general business conditions index rose to 9.5, beating market expectations.

Besides, business inventories inched up 0.1 percent in May from April, while sales rose 1.1 percent, the U.S. Commerce Department said Monday.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered a fear gauge of the market, dropped 0.36 percent to end at 13.79.

In other markets, oil prices advanced slightly on Monday, as China’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter came in as expected and U.S. economic data turned out mixed.

China’s GDP grew at an annual rate of 7.5 percent in the second quarter, slowing down from 7.7 percent in the first quarter, official data showed Monday. However, the figure was inconsistent with market consensus, thus easing market worries about the oil demand in the world’s second largest economy.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery gained 0.37 dollars to settle at 106.32 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday. While Brent for August delivery went up 0.28 dollars, to close at 109.09 dollars a barrel on Monday.

Gold futures for August delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained 5.9 dollars, to settle at 1, 283.5 dollars per ounce on physical demand on Monday.

The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies on Monday. The greenback bought 99.86 Japanese yen, higher than 99.38 yen of the previous session.



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