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Stocks - Wall Street Opens Higher as Investors Switch Focus to Earnings

Wall Street opens with gains as Syria risks ebb and attention turns to reporting season

Investing.com - Wall Street opened with solid gains on Monday as investors breathed a sigh of relief over tensions in Syria and braced for a big week in earnings.

At 9:33AM ET (13:33GMT), the Dow Jones jumped 193 points, or 0.79%, the S&P 500 gained 16 points, or 0.60%, while the Nasdaq Composite traded up 38 points, or 0.54%.

Tension over escalating conflict in Syria seemed to fade over the weekend after the U.S., France and UK undertook an airstrike on chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma on April 7.

Although Russian President Vladmir Putin warned Sunday that further attacks on Syria could cause “chaos in international relations”, U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration of “mission accomplished” led market participants to interpret that no immediate military escalation would be forthcoming.

With caution over geopolitical tensions in the background, traders were set for a big week of first quarter earnings including a handful of Dow components and dozens of S&P 500 firms.

Earnings growth is expected to be up about 18.5%, according to Thomson Reuters data, the highest in seven years, as results are likely to have been boosted by President Trump's tax cuts.

As earnings season begins to rev it engines, the first 30 S&P firms to report last week clocked profit of growth of 26.8%, according to The Earnings Scout.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) appeared to follow the trend as the second largest U.S. bank by assets reported a 34% increase in profit, topping consensus on both the top and bottom line. Shares were last up 0.8%.

Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is scheduled to release its own quarterly numbers after the market close.

Among major firms reporting this week, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), IBM (NYSE:IBM), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) will post results on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and American Express (NYSE:AXP) report earnings.

Philip Morris (NYSE:PM) and Blackstone (NYSE:BX) are on the docket Thursday.

Finally, corporate results from Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), General Electric (NYSE:GE) and Honeywell (NYSE:HON) round up the week on Friday.

Among Monday’s economic data, retail sales climbed 0.6% in March, beating expectations for a 0.4% rise, but the NY Empire State manufacturing index fell to 15.8 in April, missing calls for smaller drop to 18.80 from the prior 22.5.

Still ahead on Monday, February business inventories and the NAHB housing market index for April will both be released at 10:00AM ET (14:00GMT).

Markets will also pay attention to appearances from Federal Reserve policymakers Robert Kaplan, Neel Kashkari and Raphael Bostic as they look for hints on the path of interest rates.

Fed fund futures price in the odds of the next hike for the June meeting at 90%, while Investing.com’s Fed Rate Monitor Tool shows the probability of a third hike in December at around 84%.

Ahead of the rest of Monday’s data and Fed appearances, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, fell 0.45% to 89.11 by 9:34AM ET (13:34GMT), while gold for June delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange edged up 0.15% to $1,349.90.

Elsewhere, Europe’s major bourses were slightly lower. However, London’s FTSE 100 was down around 0.5% with the index plagued by losses in commodities and a stronger pound.

Oil prices sank around 1% on Monday after having gained 8% last week. Traders opted to take profit after Baker Hughes’ data released late Friday showed that U.S. drillers added seven oil rigs in the week to April 13, bringing the total count to 815, the highest number since March 2015. The data underscored worries that rising U.S. output could potentially derail OPEC's effort to end a supply glut.

U.S. crude futures fell 1.44% to $66.42 by 9:36AM ET (13:36GMT), while Brent oil traded down 1.32% to $71.62.

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