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Upbeat Earnings, Economic News May Fortify US Stocks

By Investors Hub

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a higher opening on Monday, with stocks poised to add to the strong gains posted last week.

Early buying interest may be generated in reaction to upbeat quarterly results from financial giant Bank of America (BAC), which reported first quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates on strong loan growth.

The markets may also benefit from the release of a Commerce Department report showing stronger than expected retail sales growth in the month of March.

Geopolitical concerns may keep trading activity somewhat subdued, however, as traders digest the weekend?s U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria.

Reports of the U.S. imposing new economic sanctions on Russia and a tweet from President Donald Trump accusing China of currency devaluation may also limit any upside for the markets.

After failing to sustain an initial upward move, stocks moved mostly lower over the course of the trading session on Friday. With the downturn on the day, the major averages partly offset the gains posted in the previous session.

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The major averages climbed off their worst levels going into the close but still ended the day in the red. The Dow slid 122.91 points or 0.5 percent to 24,360.14, the Nasdaq dropped 33.60 points or 0.5 percent to 7,106.65 and the S&P 500 fell 7.69 points or 0.3 percent to 2,656.30.

Despite the pullback on the day, the major averages moved sharply higher for the week. The Nasdaq soared by 2.8 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Dow jumped by 2 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

The initial strength on Wall Street came as traders reacted positively to earnings news from financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), and Wells Fargo (WFC).

Before the start of trading, JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo all reported first quarter earnings that came in above analyst estimates.

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Buying interest waned shortly after the open, however, with traders reluctant to make significant moves ahead of a slew of earnings news next week.

Bank of America (BAC), Goldman Sachs (GS), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), IBM (IBM), American Express (AXP), and General Electric (GE) are among the companies due to report their quarterly results.

The subsequent pullback by the markets may have been partly due to the release of a report from the University of Michigan showing a bigger than expected drop in consumer sentiment in the month of April.

The report said the preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index for April came in at 97.8 compared to the final March reading of 101.4. Economists had expected the index to edge down to 100.5.

“Consumer sentiment slipped in early April, largely reversing the gains recorded in the prior two months,” said Richard Curtin, the survey’s chief economist. “The small decline was widely shared by all age and income subgroups and across all regions of the country.”

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He added, “Importantly, confidence still remains relatively high, despite the recent losses that were mainly due to concerns about the potential impact of Trump’s trade policies on the domestic economy.”

Banking stocks showed a significant move to the downside on the day, dragging the KBW Bank Index down by 2.1 percent. JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo all slid into negative territory despite reporting better than expected earnings.

Considerable weakness was also visible among brokerage stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent loss posted by the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index.

On the other hand, gold stocks moved notably higher, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 1.7 percent. The index ended the session at its best closing level in nearly two months. The rally by gold stocks came amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.

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Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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