U.S. Stocks Climb as Earnings Season Ramps Up

By Kosaku Narioka Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. futures edged higher Monday following the long weekend.

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The S&P 500 was poised to open 0.2% higher, while futures pointed to a 0.2% opening gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Changes in futures don't necessarily reflect moves after the opening bell.

Major indexes have slipped two weeks in a row, as investors flocked to haven assets like gold and the Japanese yen while dumping stocks. Data pointing to a slowdown in consumer spending and an unexpected weakening in inflation, as well as heightened geopolitical tensions around the world, have chipped away at investors' appetite for risky assets.

The S&P 500 remains 2.8% away from its all-time high. Stocks will need improving earnings and economic data to keep moving higher, investors and analysts say. U.S. companies were expected as of March 31 to report their best quarterly earnings since 2011, according to FactSet.

Earlier, stocks in Asia ended mostly lower, as China's securities regulator urged tighter supervision of listed companies and tensions in Korea continued to discourage buying. Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, as well as most European exchanges, were closed for Easter Monday.

Over the weekend China's top securities regulator, Liu Shiyu, urged stock exchanges to strengthen regulation and severely punish violations. Blue chips in ship manufacturing, property and ports were among the biggest decliners. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.7%.

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Japan's Nikkei Stock Average edged up 0.1%, snapping a four-session losing streak.

"The market will likely start to rebound" barring further escalation on the Korean Peninsula, said Soichiro Monji, general manager of economic research at Daiwa SB Investments.

North Korea rolled a long-range ballistic missile on Saturday, among other military equipment, through the streets of Pyongyang to commemorate the birth of the country's late founder, Kim Il Sung. The next day it unsuccessfully fired a ballistic missile, prompting a senior Trump administration official to warn that North Korea's provocative behavior couldn't continue -- a warning underlined Monday by Vice President Mike Pence, who is visiting the region.

Still, stock selling appeared to wane as tensions failed to escalate to a direct military confrontation. Korea's Kospi closed up 0.5%, recovering from recent declines.

Write to Kosaku Narioka at kosaku.narioka@wsj.com

U.S. stocks rose Monday, buoyed by optimism on upcoming earnings releases.

Signs of economic expansion and signals of improvement in corporate earnings helped stocks rebound Monday after the S&P 500 fell roughly 1% last week. With the potential for profit-boosting policies from the Trump administration remaining unclear, some analysts said further gains will depend on growth in earnings and the economy.

U.S. companies were expected as of March 31 to report their best quarterly earnings since 2011, according to FactSet.

"The bar is high," said Jeff Zipper, a portfolio manager and managing director at U.S. Bank's Private Client Reserve.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 117 points, or 0.6%, to 20571. The S&P 500 added 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.6%.

Gains were broad, with all 30 stocks in the Dow industrials rising, along with all 11 sectors of the S&P 500.

United Continental Holdings and Netflix are among companies scheduled to report earnings after the market closes. United Continental rose 1.5% Monday, while the video streaming company was one of the biggest stock gainers, adding 2.8%.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note touched a five-month low before recovering to 2.236% Monday from 2.237% last week. Yields and prices move in opposite directions.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S currency against a basket of 16 others, fell 0.3%.

Stocks in Asia ended mostly lower, as China posted its best quarterly growth figure since 2015, putting the country ahead of its annual target of approximately 6.8% growth.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.7%. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average edged up 0.1%, snapping a four-session losing streak.

"Part of the move today is a little bit of relief," said Thomas Lee, a managing partner at Fundstrat Global Advisors, as there were concerns about geopolitical risks heading into the long weekend. North Korea launched a ballistic missile test over the weekend, followed by warnings from the Trump administration.

Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, as well as most European exchanges, were closed for Easter Monday.

Write to Gunjan Banerji at Gunjan.Banerji@wsj.com and Kosaku Narioka at kosaku.narioka@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 17, 2017 12:17 ET (16:17 GMT)