US stocks open modestly higher; J&J gains

ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writer Published:

The U.S. stock market opened slightly higher on Tuesday, extending a modest rally as investors weighed a slate of corporate earnings. Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson's quarterly earnings rose and Coca-Cola's matched Wall Street's expectations.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,839 in the first half-hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 61 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,234. The Nasdaq added 23 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,045.

The stock market is recovering ground lost last week when investors worried about overpriced technology stocks.

HEALTHY RESULTS: Johnson & Johnson's first-quarter profit rose 8 percent because of restrained costs and a jump in prescription drug sales. The world's biggest maker of health care products topped Wall Street expectations and raised its earnings outlook. Its stock rose $1.24, or 1.3 percent, to $98.43 in early trading.

COKE: Coca-Cola's first-quarter profit fell nearly 8 percent as the world's biggest beverage maker faced a stronger dollar and sold less soda, But the company sold more of its noncarbonated drinks worldwide and its earnings matched analysts' expectations. Coca-Cola rose $1.13, or 2.9 percent, to $39.85 in early trading.

INFLATION IN CHECK: Lower U.S. gasoline prices kept consumer inflation in check last month, helping offset higher costs for food and clothing. The Labor Department said that the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in March, after scant 0.1 percent increases in each of the previous two months.

YELLEN SPEAKS: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says that recent initiatives by the central bank and other regulators to help lenders make it through periods of financial stress are important, but they may still need to be strengthened. Yellen's comments early Tuesday came in an address delivered by video to a financial markets conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve's regional bank in Atlanta.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent while France's CAC-40 rose 0.3 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.6 percent as a drop in China's money supply unnerved investors ahead of first quarter economic growth figures due Wednesday. China's Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.4 percent.

BONDS: In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 2.65 percent.

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