US stocks open higher on retail sales increase

ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writer Published:

U.S. stocks opened higher on Monday following news that U.S. retail sales in March rose by the largest amount in 18 months. Citigroup also turned in better-than-expected quarterly results, helping cheer investors anticipating a sluggish earnings season.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,827 in the first half-hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 84 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,111. The Nasdaq added 30 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,029.

The S&P 500 dropped 2.7 percent last week, its worst weekly showing since January. The Nasdaq composite notched its third consecutive weekly decline.

CITI: Citigroup reported a 2.5 percent increase in first-quarter profit. Both income and revenue beat Wall Street's expectations. The lender got a boost from improving results in its Citi Holdings unit, which is selling off assets such as mortgages that soured in the financial crisis. Citi's shares surged $1.90, or 4.2 percent, to $47.59.

SALES UP: Retail sales rose 1.1 percent in March, the best showing since September 2012, the Commerce Department reported. The government also revised February's figure to a 0.7 percent gain, more than double its previous estimate. Sales dropped in January and December.

OVERSEAS: Europe markets were little changed. Germany's DAX fell 0.1 percent while France's CAC-40 rose 0.04 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.2 percent.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note inched up to 2.64 percent from 2.63 percent late Friday. The price of crude oil slipped 15 cents to $103.56 a barrel. Gold rose $7 to $1,326.10 an ounce.

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