Stocks Climb as Earnings Season Looms

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The markets posted modest gains on Monday as traders awaited the kick off of first-quarter earnings season. 

Today's Markets

As of 3:17 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7.8 points, or 0.06%, to 14573, the S&P 500 gained 4.8 points, or 0.31%, to 1558 and the Nasdaq Composite ticked up 8.4 points, or 0.26%, to 3212.

After a period where the biggest corporate news has come in the form of mergers and acquisitions, first-quarter earnings season is set to kick off. Alumnium giant Alcoa (AA) is due to report after the close in New York. This will be the first quarter after the fiscal cliff debacle, where Americans were hit with an across-the-board payroll tax hike among several other forms of fiscal tightening. 

The U.S. data docket is fairly light on the day. However, Goldman Sachs (GS) chief economist Jan Hatzius issued a note to clients over the weekend saying the U.S. economy is "losing steam as winter turns into spring." 

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Hatzius sees the pace of U.S. growth slowing down from roughly 3% in the first quarter, to 2% in the following two quarters. As such, the investment bank doesn't see the Federal Reserve tightening policy any time soon, and expects a "fairly dovish" statement from the central bank on May 1. 

Elsewhere in corporate news, General Electric (GE) said it will buy oilfield servicing company Lufkin Industries for $3.3 billion. 

Oil and gasoline prices both posted solid gains. The benchmark U.S. crude oil contract climbed 71 cents, or 0.76%, to $93.40 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rallied 1.9% to $2.918 a gallon. In metals, gold fell $3.20, or 0.2%, to $1,573 a troy ounce. 

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.59% to 2601, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.39% to 6274 and the German DAX climbed 0.32% to 7683. 

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 surged 2.8% to 12193 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged lower by 0.04% to 21718.

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