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US stocks higher despite weak retail sales

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US stocks higher despite weak retail sales

The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ Composite all rose on Monday, despite weaker-than-expected retail sales data from the US Census Bureau. The S&P closed New York trade up 0.14 percent at 1,682.50. The DJI was up 0.13 percent to close at 15,484.26, and the NASDAQ closed at 3,607.49, a gain of 0.21 percent.

The stock markets were supported Monday after Citigroup earnings beat expectations. America’s third largest bank saw its quarterly profit jump 42 percent on the back of stronger home prices and improving bond trading revenue, which created a surge in stock-trading revenue. Citigroup stock advanced almost 2 percent on the news, hitting a New York session high of $52.16 before closing at $51.81. Portfolio managers continue to emphasize earnings, and that’s where short-term focus will remain.

The stock market’s performance has defied the odds this quarter, which many analysts had dubbed a low earnings quarter. Expectations for weak earnings came after Q1 profits failed to live up to expectations.  Last quarter profits at companies listed on the S&P 500 rose only 2 percent after initial projections called for 8.7 percent growth.

The S&P 500 closed at a record high last week after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke backed loose monetary policy, suggesting that QE may continue indefinitely. On Monday the S&P hit a fresh high following the Citigroup report, which overshadowed weak US data.

Retail sales for June failed to meet economists’ projections, growing by only 0.4 percent versus expectations of 0.8 percent. Retail sales excluding automobiles experienced zero growth in June, which suggests that auto sales were the biggest influence on retail sales’ growth last month. According to Autodata Corporation, June vehicle sales topped 15.89 million, and were one of the main reasons for the huge spike in consumer credit.

On Tuesday the US Department of Labor Statistics will release the Consumer Price Index, a key indicator of inflation. This report will be followed by housing and building permit data on Wednesday. The US housing market continues to expand, which is helping to minimize the effect of bad mortgages still on the books. Monday’s Citigroup earnings report underscores the bank’s gradual recovery since the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis.

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